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Book cover - Alpine Plants of New ZealandAlpine Plants
of New Zealand


Pentachondra pumila


Pentachondra pumilaReproduced from
Alpine Plants of New Zealand
ISBN 0 7900 0525 5
by kind permission of the author, Lawrie Metcalf and Reed Publishing (NZ) Ltd

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 be given.


  • A dwarf, much-branched, creeping shrub which forms dense patches or low hummocks of deep- or bluish-green foliage. The patches are usually 2-4 cm thick and vary from 30-40 cm or more across.
  • Leaves: Small and hard, 3-5 mm by 1-2 mm, deep green above and slightly paler beneath.
  • Flowers: Small, whitish, honey-scented, borne singly near the tips of the branchlets; similar to those of Cyathodes colensoi.
  • Fruits: Bright red, berry-like, 5-6 mm in diameter, hollow inside and with five or more small nutlets.

Distribution & Habitat

  • North, South and Stewart Islands in subalpine to low-alpine areas from the Coromandel Peninsula southwards. Very common in the South and Stewart Islands, but rare north of East Cape in the North Island. 600-1500 metres.
  • Occurs in cushion bogs, open snow tussock grasslands, herb-fields and herb moor. Frequently grows in exposed or rocky sites or in poorly drained peaty areas.


  • Fruits: The fruits take two seasons to ripen, being quite small and green by autumn and maturing during the following summer.
  • Identification: The hollow fruits distinguish this species from other plants of a similar appearance.
  • Flowering: Between November and January, but occasional flowers may be seen at other times


Web-notes: Alpine Garden Links

On this site

Reproduced from Alpine Plants of New Zealand:

Also see the article by Raymond Mole on:
New Zealand Alpine Plants: A Challenge for Growers


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New Zealand Alpine Garden Society


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Last updated: March 1, 2021