of New Zealand
Alpine Plants of New Zealand
ISBN 0 7900 0525 5
by kind permission of the author, Lawrie Metcalf and Reed Publishing
Publication or other use of images or descriptive
text on these pages is unauthorised unless written permission is
obtained from the author and publisher. Appropriate acknowledgement
of the publication Alpine Plants of New Zealand must always
Available from Touchwood
- A shrub of dense and
very compact habit which forms irregularly shaped, cushion-like
masses 20-30 cm or more in diameter and 10-15 cm thick. The branchless
are so tightly packed together that only their growing tips are
- Leaves: Densely
clustered together around the tips of the branchless. Covered
on both surfaces with a dense, brush-like mass of white hairs.
Flower heads are about 3 mm in diameter and are sunk amongst the
foliage at the tips of the branchlets.
- South Island in low-
to high-alpine regions from eastern Nelson and Marlborough to
Central Otago. 1200-1800 metres.
- Usually on rock faces
and rock outcrops, but also occurs on shattered, but stable, rock
jutting out of screes.
This, along with several related species, is one of the most extraordinary
of our native shrubs and possibly in the world. From a distance
it has a white or greyish appearance, but upon close inspection
it is most fascinating and rather beautiful. Only the tips of
the leaves at the ends of the branchless are visible, and through
the white hairs the bluish-green colour of the leaves creates
a rather beautiful effect. With the leaves and branchlet tips
all pressed into a hard mass the plant has an almost perfect protection
against the elements of its harsh environment. Inside the cushion,
protected from sun and wind, the old leaves form a rotting, sponge-like
mass which holds water and ensures that the plant does not suffer
from lack of moisture. Its main roots are usually deeply anchored
into a rock crevice.