An erect shrub or small tree to about 20 ft high with a smooth grey bark; young shoots more or less glabrous. Leaves obovate to ovate or broadly elliptic, about 1⁄2 to 1 in. long, cuneate at the base, margins toothed in the upper half; dark green and glabrous above, paler and somewhat downy beneath; leaf-stalks 1⁄8 to 1⁄4 in. long. Flowers in clusters of two to three on short pedicels; flower-tube silky-hairy at first, later more or less glabrous. Fruits terminated by a plumelike style 11⁄2 to 41⁄4 in. long.
Native of western N. America from S.W. Oregon to Lower California. It is a common and variable species in which three varieties are recognised, differing from the type chiefly in their larger and differently shaped leaves. Of these the following is the most distinct:
var. traskiae (Eastw.) Dunkle C. traskiae Eastw. – Leaves leathery, thickly felted beneath, 11⁄5 to 23⁄5 in. long; flower-tube densely woolly on the outside. Found only on Sta Catalina Island.
C. betuloides is closely allied to C. montanus but differs in its grey, thin, flaky bark (not thick and fissured as in C. montanus), and taller, more robust habit.