This section is from the book "Sub-Alpine Plants Or Flowers Of The Swiss Woods And Meadows", by H. Stuart Thompson. Also available from Amazon: Sub-Alpine Plants: Or, Flowers of the Swiss Woods and Meadows.
Shrubs or trees, more or less covered with minute, silvery or brown scurfy scales. It differs from the Daphne family in having erect and not pendulous ovules and seeds.
A small family of few genera spread over the northern hemisphere.
The only species. A stiff and spiny willow-like shrub, covered with scaly scurf, silvery on the under-side of the leaves, thin or none on the upper, and more rusty on the younger shoots, which often end in a stout prickle. Leaves alternate, entire, broadly linear. Male flowers very small and in little clusters like catkins, female flowers crowded in the axils. Fruit a small yellowish or orange-brown berry in almost sessile, crowded clusters on the bare, woody stems.
Sandy and stony places, and beds of rivers and mountain torrents from the sea-level to 5000 feet in the Alps, as, e.g. on the Col de Balme (French side). Flowers in spring.
Central, Eastern, and Northern Europe; Central and Russian Asia. Local in Britain and often planted to mat the sand of sand-hills together. This useful property can be seen naturally in some of the river valleys of Switzerland and in the north of France, as, e.g. between Calais and Paris.