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Chaparral whitethorn is evergreen with alternate leaves, 0.2 to 1.5 inches (0.5-3.8 cm) long and 0.2 to 0.5 inch (0.5-1.3 cm) wide. Chaparral whitethorn leaves are generally elliptical-oblong to ovate with entire to minutely serrate margins. Leaves are 3-veined, waxy, and generally smooth, although they may be covered in short, fine hairs. Leaves of most evergreen shrubs live for 2 or more years. Flowers occur in simple, dense clusters 1 to 4 inches (2.5-11 cm) long. Chaparral whitethorn fruit is a capsule less than 0.25 inch (0.6 cm) wide that is sticky. The average mass of chaparral whitethorn seed was 7.12 mg on a wedgeleaf ceanothus-chaparral whitethorn site.
Chaparral whitethorn typically flowers from April to June, although flowering as early as February as been reported. Fruit ripens in July and August and seeds are dispersed in late July.