Shrubs, erect or mound-forming, 1–3 m; burl present; bark of older stems persistent, gray, shredded; twigs usually short-hairy, sometimes with long hairs and glandular hairs. Leaves bifacial in stomatal distribution; petiole 2–5 mm; blade dark to bright green, dull abaxially, ± shiny adaxially, oblong-ovate to oblong-lanceolate, 2–5 × 1.5–2.5 cm, base truncate to ± lobed, margins entire, sometimes toothed, cupped or ± rolled, (distal portion glabrous, proximal tomentose), surfaces short-hairy or glabrous abaxially, papillate, scabrous, sometimes finely glandular-hairy or ± glabrous adaxially. Inflorescences panicles, 2–8-branched; immature inflorescence pendent, axis 1–2.5 cm, 1+ mm diam., usually short-hairy, sometimes with long hairs and glandular hairs; bracts not appressed, leaflike, lanceolate, 8–15 mm, apex acute, surfaces glabrous, hairy, or finely glandular-hairy. Pedicels 2–5 mm, sparsely hairy, sometimes glandular, or hairy. Flowers: corolla white, conic to urceolate; ovary white-hairy and sometimes sparsely glandular. Fruits depressed-globose, 6–10 mm diam., sparsely hairy or glabrous. Stones distinct.
Subspecies 4 (4 in the flora).
Arctostaphylos tomentosa is found in coastal central California, in areas that receive summer fog. Most subspecies are narrowly distributed.
|1||Twigs densely glandular-hairy||Arctostaphylos tomentosa subsp. bracteosa|
|1||Twigs eglandular||> 2|
|2||Twigs short-hairy and with long, white hairs.||Arctostaphylos tomentosa subsp. daciticola|
|2||Twigs short-hairy||> 3|
|3||Leaf blades tomentose abaxially (at least younger leaves).||Arctostaphylos tomentosa subsp. tomentosa|
|3||Leaf blades glabrous abaxially.||Arctostaphylos tomentosa subsp. hebeclada|