My knowledge of coastal vegetation is still pretty slim (we live less than 40 miles inland from the Pacific, but our climate is very different). Even though we go to the beach quite often, I admit I have not noticed this plant before. Its botanical name is Garrya Elliptica, and it lives along the coast from Oregon to Southern California.
It is an evergreen shrub with rather coarse and uninteresting foliage, which only becomes striking when it displays its long flower tassels called catkins in winter.
Plants can be male and female, male catkins being longer and prettier.
It is useful as a dense screen, being salt- and drought-tolerant and not too well liked by deer. I find the contrast between coarse dark leaves and delicate, filigree-like flowers fascinating. I am glad I walked into it:-)