Habit: Shrubs, rarely tree-like.
Stems: branched, prostrate, sprawling, ascending or erect, spinescent or not, arranged as the leaves.
Leaves: deciduous or evergreen, alternate or opposite, stipules thin and deciduous or thick and persistent; blade margins entire or not, bases 1 or 3-veined.
Inflorescences: terminal, axillary, or both, usually a loosely, compound-branched aggregation of umbel-like, three-flowered cymes; the aggregate usually resembling racemes, panicles or compound umbels.
Flowers: usually less than 5 mm long; sepals usually 5, lanceolate-deltate, incurved, colored like petals, persistent; petals usually 5 , hooded with slender claws, white to deep blue; stamen usually 5, opposite petals; (C. jepsonii is hexamerous to octamerous); ovary superior, 3-lobed, chambers 3, each 1-ovuled, style parts 3; the lower portion of the calyx forms a hypanthium cohering with the ovary yielding a fleshy disk below ovary base, which in fruit is thick, not splitting.
Fruits: initally posess an exocarp which sloughs off exposing, nominally, a capsule, usually globose, 3-valved, separating on maturity. Seeds usually dark brown, 3, +/- 3 mm, 1 surface convex.
Cytology: x = 12.
Number of species: c. 60 (50 in flora);
Range: North America from s. Canada south to Guatemala.
[McMinn, H. E. 1942. A systematic study of the genus Ceanothus in Ceanothus part II, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, pp. 1-308]