A deciduous, freely branching shrub up to 6 ft high; young shoots flattened, distinctly ribbed, glabrous, and leafy when young. Leaves (persisting until about midsummer) 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. long, made up of three or five leaflets which are glabrous, inversely heart-shaped, 3⁄16 in. long. Flowers 1⁄4 in. long, fragrant, pale purple veined with violet, produced five to twelve together in racemes up to 1 in. long; flower-stalks glabrous. Pod oblong, 1⁄4 to 3⁄8 in. long, narrowed at the end to a long beak and carrying two to four seeds, which are red, spotted with black.
Native of the South Island of New Zealand and found in mountainous districts up to 3,500 ft. A specimen preserved at Kew, collected by Dr Haast in October 1864, bears the note: ‘Along the banks of the River Cameron, filling the air with delicious perfume.’ The distinctive characters of the species are its leaf-bearing young shoots and the long-beaked, straw-coloured seed-pod, borne on an upright stalk, but in other respects it is variable: the form described above has glabrous flower-stalks, but in the type they are downy.
var. alba T. Kirk – Flowers white. Found wild near the Waimakariri glaciers.
The species flowers in June and July and ought, from the altitude at which it grows, to be reasonably hardy.