Shrubby Tororaro / Wirebrush
Neither Māori nor English names are commonly used for this shrub – the botanical name has taken common place.
Muehlenbeckia astonii is relatively rare outside of cultivation.
1.5m x 1m. Heart-shaped leaves scattered through orange-brown, zig-zagging twigs in a tangled small bush. Flowers are insignificant, while the white berries attract birds and lizards.
Provides a soft texture and ephemeral form where hard lines and sharp angles of paving/architecture are to be diffused. Can be trimmed to a low, loose informal hedge (where given a little structural support), or allowed to take its own form in wider screen-plantings. The coloured stems provide warmth in the winter planting.
Prefers drier soils. Just as content in sun or shade, and in shelter or exposure. Tolerates moderate frosts.
Creeping Pohuehue (Muehlenbeckia axillaris) – flat habit, not self-supporting. More leaves and darker stems.
Weeping Matipo (Myrsine divaricata) – columnar shrub, with stiff grey twigs curving sharply down.
Muehlenbeckia are the only food source for the larvae of the native Common Copper butterfly. Its flowers are also an important nectar source for the adult butterfly.