A large, wide-spreading, deciduous, often thorny shrub, sometimes 20 to 30 ft across, 12 to 18 ft high; twigs covered with brownish scales. The shoots sometimes retain a few leaves at the ends throughout the winter. Leaves narrowly oval, 2 to 4 in. long, 3⁄4 to 11⁄2 in. wide, tapered at the apex, tapered or rounded at the base, rather bright green above, shining and silvery beneath; stalk about 1⁄3 in. long. Flowers produced during May and June, when the young leaves are about one-third grown, in clusters of one to three; each flower 1⁄2 in. long, funnel-shaped, silvery outside, creamy white inside. Fruit globose, 1⁄4 to 1⁄3 in. diameter, at first silvery, finally red; stalk 1⁄4 in. long.
Native of the Himalaya, China, and Japan; varying considerably in several respects, one form coming into flower when another is almost past. The habit also varies, some forms being much wider-spreading than others. The largest plant at Kew is 30 ft across. A handsome species both in flower and fruit.
var. parvifolia (Royle) Schneid. E. parvifolia Royle – Shoots at first silvery; leaves covered with distinctly starry hair-tufts on the upper surface when young, becoming glabrous later; silvery and scaly beneath. There is a fine specimen of this variety at Dartington Hall, Devon, about 20 ft high and 25 ft across.
E. umbellata differs from E. multiflora in its globose, short-stalked fruits; in the tube of the perianth being more slender; and in the leaves being paler, longer, and proportionately narrower. It also flowers later.