Ceanothus velutinus Douglas ex Hook
An erect, often sprawling, evergreen shrub up to 10 feet tall with stout, green branches. Often forms thickets from basal sprouts. The twigs are brown, more or less puberlent, becoming dark brown. It has a taproot 1.9 to 2.4 meters deep. Monoecious, perfect and complete. There are small white flowers borne in large, dense clusters up to 5 inches long (giving rise to the name snowbrush). Leaves are simple, alternate, persistent, ovate to ovate-elliptical, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches long, thick, dark green and shiny above and paler below, margins serrated, 3-veined from the base. Leaves are sticky and have a sickeningly sweet odor when rubbed or when weather is warm. The fruit is small, 3-lobed, rounded capsule up to 3/16 inches in diameter, which occur in clusters. Tiny dark seeds with very hard seed coats; need to be heated by fire in order to germinate. It is in leaf all year, in flower from June to July. It produces a strong cinnamon or balsam-like odor.
The plant prefers light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and requires well-drained soils that are acid, neutral, and basic. It often occurs in draws and on the open face of hills, becoming rapidly established on burnt-over mountain slopes of Western N. America.
Traditionally, plant tops and leaves were used as a hair wash for dandruff, and in a bath to prevent diaper rash or to wash sores or eczema. it was also used a decoction of branches or leaves as a wash for rheumatism, arthritis, and dull body pains, or in a general wash for bathing.