A shrub of rather open, straggling habit, 2 to 6 ft high according to situation; young stems sparsely clad with long hairs. Leaves oblong to oblong-elliptic, 13⁄5 to 4 in. long, 3⁄5 to 23⁄5 in. wide, pointed at the apex, tapered at the base into a short stalk; dark green above, with scattered hairs, somewhat tomentose beneath; margins plane or undulate. Flowers purplish pink, to 2 in. or a little more across, two to nine together in hairy panicles; sepals five, hairy, especially near the base; style to 1 in. long and always much longer than the stamens.
Native of the Canary Islands, mostly confined to the mountains above 1,500 ft; introduced early in the nineteenth century but, owing to its tenderness, uncommon in gardens. Some of the plants that are grown, or have been grown, as typical C. symphytifolius may belong to the following variety:
var. leucophyllus (Spach) Danserau Rhodocistus berthelotianus var. leucophyllus Spach; C. candidissimus Dun.; C. ochreatus Chr. Smith – Stems and leaves densely white-hairy.
C. osbeckiifolius (Webb) Christ Rhodocistus osbeckiifolius Webb; C. ochreatus of some authors, not Chr. Smith. – Also a native of the Canary Islands, this species differs from the preceding in its thicker, smaller, and strongly three-nerved leaves. They are densely downy on both surfaces, with silky-haired petioles.