Erica capillaris is a hairless, much-branched shrublet in the Gypsocallis section of the Erica genus, reaching about 30 cm in height. The specific name, capillaris, is derived from the Latin word, capillus, meaning a hair or the hair of the head and the word part -aris meaning pertaining to, referring to plant hairiness, which is uncertain.
The small, oblong leaves grow in whorls of three or overlapping, ascending up the stems more than adhering to them.
The pale pink to about white flowers grow stalked in clusters from stem-tips, maybe sometimes in compact racemes from upper leaf axils. The calyces have narrowly lance-shaped or oblong, (sometimes) green lobes clutching the backs of the corollas.
The small, cup-shaped corollas end in round-tipped lobes, only slightly out-curved. The narrowly oblong anthers, purplish to brown, are exserted, not as far as the whitish styles that end in minute, coloured stigmas. Flowering happens in summer, sometimes for slightly longer.
The distribution of var. capillaris is in the southwest of the Western Cape, from the Cape Peninsula eastwards to Stanford along the coast, possibly to Bredasdorp.
The habitat is sandstone fynbos slopes and flats. Of the two varieties, E. capillaris var. capillaris is deemed endangered in habitat early in the twenty first century, due to urban expansion, farming and alien vegetation invasion. The plant is extinct at least on the Cape Flats.
The population status of the other variety, var. poliotes, the only other one recorded, is uncertain due to data deficiency. That is if the two varieties are still upheld (Baker and Oliver, 1967; Andrew, 2017; iNaturalist; JSTOR; https://www.fernkloof.org.za; http://redlist.sanbi.org).