A deciduous shrub of prostrate sprawling habit, forming a thicket of slender stems which are rush-like the first year, deeply grooved and without down. Leaves linear to halberd-shaped, 1⁄3 to 1 in. long, 1⁄16 to 1⁄6 in. wide, glabrous, usually inconspicuous or even absent. Flowers small, mostly unisexual, produced from the leaf-axils in short spikes of few-flowered clusters; on the spikes the flowers are predominantly of one sex but often have a few flowers of the other sex mixed with them; they have no beauty. The fruit is black, triangular in cross-section, about 1⁄8 in. long, subtended by the persisting, more or less succulent perianth.
Native of the North and South Islands of New Zealand. Perhaps not in cultivation.
var. muricatula (Col.) Cheesem. M. muricatula Col. – A distinct variety once grown by E. A. Bowles at Myddleton House, Waltham Cross, Herts. It differs from the type in its very slender, almost thread-like young shoots, in the smaller leaves (1⁄6 to 1⁄2 in. long) and in the segments of the perianth becoming membranous in fruit. I saw it in July 1932, bearing a large crop of its three-angled seeds rather like miniature beechnuts, but black. Of interest chiefly to botanists and lovers of curiosities. Allan (Flora of New Zealand, Vol. 1, p. 224) considers that it is a form of the variable M. complexa.