A much-branched shrub up to 8 ft high, with long, slender, flexible, tough, dark coloured, pendulous branchlets bearing alternate leaves either singly or two to five clustered at each joint; both stem and leaves are glabrous. On young plants the leaves are linear, 1⁄2 to 1 in. long, 1⁄12 in. or less wide, entire, bluntish; on adult plants they are smaller and often only 1⁄4 in. or even less long. Flowers mostly unisexual, inconspicuous and of no beauty, yellowish white, 3⁄16 in. wide, borne singly or a few together at the joints, very shortly stalked. Fruit globose, the size of a peppercorn, covered with very close pale down.
Native of New Zealand and the Chatham Islands; it was cultivated by the Vilmorins at Verrières, near Paris, and flowered there as long ago as May 1851. At Kew it was grown on a wall, for which it made a graceful and distinct covering, developing into a thick tangle of dark slender stems, many of them pendulous and unbranching for more than a foot of their length. They give the shrub an evergreen character. It is a characteristic member of the coastal vegetation of New Zealand.