Muehlenbeckia complexa is a fast-growing coastal vine. It is a semi-deciduous native vine. Also known as small-leaved pōhuehue, scrub pōhuehue, or wire vine. It can be found growing throughout New Zealand, where it grows in a variety of habitats, occurring in coastal, lowland and montane regions. M. complexa is often found growing in the company of Plagianthus divaricatus.
The stems of Muehlenbeckia complexa are slender and creep or twine over other plants or rocks. Without support, it will climb upon itself. Forming thick and dense prostrate masses. When it occurs near the shore, frequently assumes cushion form. The stems are tough and woody, with numerous branches tightly interlaced, bark is red-brown in colour and has a wiry appearance. The leaves are variable in shape and size, even on the same plant. The leaves are rather sparse on slender stalks. The tiny creamy green flowers occur in late spring and are delightfully scented. As the flowers age, they enlarge into succulent fruits that are semi-transparent with shiny, black, triangular-shaped seeds located in the centre of the sweet fruits. It is semi-deciduous, losing most, or all of its leaves over winter.
Muehlenbeckia complexa can form dense springy mounds, useful for suppressing weeds. In its native environment, it plays a key role in sealing human and natural disturbances on the forest edge. It also suppresses the growth of introduced weeds, such as blackberry, and promotes increased insect diversity. A wide variety of insect species are associated with M. complexa. It is an important host plant for several endemic species of copper butterflies including the coastal copper (Lycaena salustius). It is also a food source for lizards and birds such as tui, bellbird and kererū, which also feed on the buds and leaves.
Prefers full sun to partial shade in open areas. Can climb other plants to 5m. It is extremely tolerant of wind and drought so is suitable in coastal conditions but not wet. Leaves are small rounded and bright green and are produced on long wiry stems creeping and climbing. Flowers are creamy and are followed by black seeds held in a fleshy cup which geckos and birds love.