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


Raoulia bryoides
Vegetable Sheep


Raoulia bryoidesReproduced 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 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 visible.
  • Leaves: Densely clustered together around the tips of the branchless. Covered on both surfaces with a dense, brush-like mass of white hairs.
  • Flowers: Flower heads are about 3 mm in diameter and are sunk amongst the foliage at the tips of the branchlets.

Distribution & Habitat

  • 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.


  • Identification: 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.


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


NZAGSExternal Links

New Zealand Alpine Garden Society


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Last updated: March 1, 2021