A dwarf shrub of variable habit, with the main branches prostrate and mat-forming, or semi-erect, or tortuous and congested; bark dark brown ageing to grey or almost black; branchlets covered with short down or sometimes with longer, spreading hairs. Leaves opposite, rather closely spaced, more or less four-ranked, spreading or deflexed, sometimes very crowded and overlapping, 1⁄8 to 1⁄4 in. long, one-third to one-half as wide, variable in shape, sessile or almost so, rather leathery, more or less concave beneath, the upper surface dull green, sometimes grey-green, the margins often tinged with red. Flowers perfect or unisexual, white, fragrant, clustered at the tips of the short side branches. Perianth-tube swollen at the base, hairy on the outside, 1⁄16 to 1⁄8 in. long, the female flowers rather smaller than the staminate and perfect ones. Fruits fleshy, or sometimes dry, usually white, about 1⁄12 in. long. Bot. Mag., t. 9010.
Native of both islands of New Zealand, where it occurs in a variety of open habitats from the coast up to about 4,500 ft. Although not completely hardy, it is of easy cultivation in the rock garden, in a sunny position, but prefers a deep, cool root-run. The fragrant flowers, though individually inconspicuous, are borne in great profusion in summer, and the small fruits, like grains of rice, are produced by hermaphrodite plants. It is, in the wild, a species of the greatest complexity; for a discussion of its variations see Flora of New Zealand, Vol. 1 (1961), pp. 295-6.
P. prostrata received an Award of Merit in 1955 and again in 1965, the second award being to a form known in gardens as P. coarctata or P. prostrata var. coarctata (Bull. A.G.S., Vol. 23 (1955), p. 367 and Vol. 33 (1965), p. 354).