Melicytus alpinus is a dense hummocky alpine/rock garden plant. Also called porcupine shrub after its thick spines. Slow-growing in coastal or alpine areas of southern North Island and the South Island it looks almost leafless. But most of the leaves are sheltered between the stiff interlacing stems as an adaptation to the harsh environment where the plant grows. Leaves are variable, leathery and about 1cm long. In spring and early summer, small white flowers turn into tasty fragrant white, blue-specked fruit eaten by many native New Zealand lizards.
Melicytus alpinus is endimic to New Zealand. It can also be found in coastal areas with saline, dry soils, with very little structure. Often found in dry woodland plant communities that include but are not limited to Olearia paniculata , Pittosporum tenuifolium, Discaria toumatou, Poa cita, and Muehlenbeckia axillaris. It is most common in the South Island high country. Any well-drained soil to light sandy, rocky soils. Evergreen, hardy.
For more information on plant communities, we recommend DOC’s publication Native Plant Communities of the Canterbury Plains.