An evergreen shrub of dense habit 2 to 5 ft high in exposed places and often considerably more in width than in height, but up to 12 ft high in forests. It is glabrous in all its parts or with the young stems, leaves, inflorescence axes, and calyx clad with erect hairs of variable length. Leaves mostly obovate to spatulate-obovate, pointed or bluntish at the apex, cuneate at the base, finely toothed in the upper part, 1⁄2 to 11⁄3 in. long, 1⁄8 to 1⁄2 in. wide, glossy green on both sides but rather paler beneath. Flowers produced towards the end of June at the ends of side-growths, the lower ones in the axils of leaves, the upper subtended by bracts, the inflorescence being in effect a raceme which becomes progressively less leafy from base to apex and consists of four to twelve flowers. Calyx-lobes triangular, contracted to a slender apex. Petals about 1⁄2 in. long, with the linear-spatulate shape and erect pose so common in this genus. Bot. Mag., n.s., t.642.
Native of Chile and Argentina, where it ranges from about 350 S. to the Magellan region and ascends above the tree-line in the Andes. The type, collected by Poeppig in Antuco province, was a downy state of the species, while the name E. fonckii, by which the species has hitherto been known in gardens, is founded on a glabrous specimen. But intermediate forms occur and only one species is involved, for which E. alpina is the earlier name. It was introduced by Harold Comber during his expedition to the Andes 1925-7 under his seed-numbers 955 and 1178. On an east-facing wall of the Laboratory at Wisley, E. alpina has attained a height of 15 ft. At Kew, where it is grown fully in the open, the habit is low and bushy, as it usually is in wild plants.