A climbing deciduous shrub, forming dense masses of slender, wiry, much interlaced stems; minutely warted when young. Leaves very variable in shape and size, being roundish, heart-shaped, oblong and fiddle-shaped, sometimes on the same plant; they are thin, dull green, quite glabrous, 1⁄8 to 3⁄4 in. long; stalk rough with minute warts, 1⁄8 to 1⁄4 in. long. Flowers greenish white, 1⁄6 in. long, produced in autumn in small terminal and axillary spikes about 2⁄3 in. long; the perianth with its five erect, oblong, blunt-ended lobes persists to the fruiting stage, becoming enlarged and glistening waxy white and enclosing the black shining nutlet.
Native of New Zealand, often found at considerable altitudes. It differs from M. australis in its usually smaller leaves and in having its flowers nearly always in short spikes. It makes a dense and interesting cover for old tree-stumps and rubble-heaps; and it is even worth while allowing it to ramble over a common or unimportant shrub 6 to 10 ft high, which it will in time smother by an amazingly thick tangle of dark wiry stems. Hardy in the south and west; killed to ground-level by severe frost at Kew.
var. microphylla (Col.) Ckn. M. microphylla Col. – A hummock-forming shrub with sparse, very small, roundish leaves. A photograph of this variety in the plant’s natural state is reproduced in L. Cockayne, New Zealand Plants and their Story, 4th Ed. (1967), fig. 14.
var. trilobata (Col.) Cheesem. M. trilobata Col.; M. varians Meissn. – Leaves deeply three-lobed.
M. australis (Forst. f.) Meissn. Coccoloba australis Forst. f.; M. adpressa Hook. f., not Meissn. – This species, a native of New Zealand, is unlikely to be hardy except in the mildest parts. It is a vigorous, leafy climber with a stout main stem, growing to 30 ft high in the forests, but sometimes seen trailing over rocks. Leaves 1 to 3 in. long, ovate to almost orbicular, cordate to truncate at the base, sometimes lyre-shaped or three-lobed. Inflorescence a much-branched panicle up to 3 in. long.
M. adpressa (Labill.) Meissn. and M. gunnii (Hook. f.)Walp. (M. adpressa var. hastifolia Meissn.) are natives of Tasmania and of S. and S.E. Australia, closely allied to M. australis.