A shrub 1 to 2 ft high, with stiff, erect branches densely clothed with overlapping scale-like leaves and much resembling a lycopod. The branchlets, as clothed with leaves, are four-sided, each face about 1⁄8 in. wide. Leaves on adult plants about 1⁄10 in. long, rather more wide, triangular, flattened to the branches and strongly keeled at the back (it is the prominent keel that gives the quadrangular form to the branchlets), abruptly narrowed at the apex to a blunt, thick cusp or spine, each pair united at the base. On young plants, and on occasional ‘reverted’ branches of older ones, the leaves are twice as long, not pressed to the branches, awl-shaped with a broad base, and often more or less linear-lobed. Flowers produced about midsummer in a small head 1⁄2 in. across at the end of the branches; the corolla 1⁄4 in. diameter, white, against which the large blue anthers are in effective contrast. Bot. Mag., t. 7338.
Native of the South Island of New Zealand up to 5,500 ft. It is about as hardy as H. cupressoides and is equally shy-flowering in this country. From that species it is easily distinguished by the much less dense habit, the final subdivisions of the branches being longer, thicker, and more open; and by the much more closely imbricated leaves (see also H. hectoris).