A evergreen large shrub or small tree growing an average of 25 feet tall. The deeply grooved bark is reddish-brown, with leaves that are lance-shaped with rolled margins. The flowers grow in singles or clumps, lack petals and blooms from May to July. The fruit is a hard, narrow, and has sharp-pointed achenes and the tree reproduces with a quark screw shape seed. It is dense and strong and was used for cooking as it produces little smoke. Palatable to livestock primarily in the winter months. Adapted to a wide range of soil textures, most abundant in dry coarse-textured soils. Found on hills, rocky slopes, and rocky ridges, and canyons in the western United States.