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A much-branched shrub varying in height from 1 to 6 or 7 ft, according to soil and situation; young twigs slender, at first very downy, becoming glabrous the second year. Leaves obovate, blunt or pointed at the apex, tapered at the base, 1 to 2 in. long, 1⁄2 to 11⁄4 in. wide, rather indefinitely toothed; the upper surface dull dark green, wrinkled, and more or less woolly, lower surface covered with a permanent dull grey wool; stalk 1⁄6 to 1⁄3 in. long. Stipules conspicuous on vigorous shoots, and mostly persisting till the fall of the leaf. Catkins produced on the naked shoots in April, similar to those of S. caprea and S. cinerea, though rarely more than 3⁄4 in. long. Flowers as in these two species, but the stigma almost sessile.
Native of Europe, common in the British Isles on acid soils. It differs from S. caprea in being a smaller, more bushy plant with smaller, wrinkled leaves and shorter catkins produced only just before the leaves. Also in having the wood striated under the bark, as in S. cinerea. From that species it is less easily distinguished, but it has the year-old twigs glabrous, whereas in typical S. cinerea they remain downy; S. cinerea var. oleifolia has glabrous year-old twigs, but its leaves are not wrinkled like those of S. aurita, nor are its stipules so large and conspicuous.