grows along the mountains and lowlands of west California and southwest Oregon, below 5,500 feet elevation. The plant is a freely branching shrub, up to 3 feet tall and wide; stems bear many dark green leaves, hairless or only lightly hairy, often somewhat shiny on the upper surface. Flowers form as small clusters towards the top of the stems, connected by purple pedicels about one inch long. The corolla opens out to five fused lobes, each with wavy edges and two prominent green spots towards the base. At the center are elongated yellow anthers surrounding a protruding style.
The plant is thought to hybridize with the similar solanum xanti
; the main differences between the two are that the stems, leaves and buds of umbelliferum are less hairy, and the leaves are smaller and smoother.