Holodiscus discolor is a fast-growing deciduous shrub growing to 5 m tall. Cascading clusters of white flowersdrooping from the branches give the plant its two common names. The flowers have a faint sweet, sugary scent. It bears a small, hairy fruit containing one seed which is light enough to be dispersed by wind.
Holodiscus discolor, is found in a variety of habitats, from wet coastal forests to drier, cooler mountains further inland. It tends to grow in areas dominated by Douglas-fir. The plant is found in areas prone to wildfire, and it is often the first green shoot to spring up in an area recovering from a burn.