Muehlenbeckia ephedroides


Muehlenbeckia: Named after a botanist named Muehlenbeck
ephedroides: like ephedra, the horse-tail rush

Current Conservation Status

2018 - Threatened - Nationally Vulnerable

Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2012 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2009 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, Paul D. Champion, Shannel P. Courtney, Peter B. Heenan, John W. Barkla, Ewen K. Cameron, David A. Norton and Rodney A. Hitchmough. File size: 792KB

Previous Conservation Status

2012 - At Risk - Declining
2009 - At Risk - Declining
2004 - Sparse


2012 - PD, Sp
2009 - PD, Sp


Muehlenbeckia ephedroides Hook.f.



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

NVS Species Code


The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.

Structural Class

Dicotyledonous Lianes and Related Trailing Plants




Endemic. North and South Islands. In the North Island mainly eastern from Lake Taupo (Acacia Bay) and the northern Hawkes Bay south to Wellington and Cape Palliser. In the South Island eastern from Marlborough to Southland.


Coastal to subalpine (0-1200 m a.s.l.). A species of river flats, beaches, sand spits, alluvial fans, outwash gravels and river terraces, also found in grey scrub. Favouring open, dry, free draining but fertile sites, usually on gravel and sandy soils, in habitats naturally free from other taller plants. Sometimes found on gravel roads.


Gynodioecious, sprawling to prostrate, grey-green, grey to grey-black shrub forming dense, untidy mats up to 1.5 m or more diameter. Stems much branched, final branches c.1 mm diameter, flexuous, striate, puberulent, grey to grey-black or grey-green. Leaves 5-25 mm long, dark to grey-green, narrow-linear, glabrous to glabrate, margins revolute, ascending, distant, spaced along constricted nodes, often sparse, deciduous,sometimes absent; ochreae 1-2 mm long, chartaceous, truncate. Inflorescence a few-flowered fascicle or raceme; pedicels 1-1.5 mm, pale, bracteate, slender. Flowers with pistillate on separate plants, and staminate and perfect on the same plant; if mainly male then raceme often lax, if female then fascicle dense, mixed male and perfect racemes more or less intermediate. tepals 3-3.5 mm long, united about halfway, lobes narrow-triangular, white, greenish or pale yellow-green; stigmas frimbriate. Fruit 3 x 1.5 mm, trigonous, ovoid, lustrous black, tepals becoming swollen, white and succulent, or rarely chartaceous and dry.

Similar Taxa

None. The near leafless, dark grey to grey-black, rush-like stems, untidy, sprawling mass of seemingly dead stick and twig like branches and stems are unique to this species.


November - June

Flower Colours



November - June

Propagation Technique

Easy from fresh seed, rooted pieces and semi-hardwood cuttings. An unusual plant that makes an excellent ground cover in sunny, free draining sites. Does not like much shade. Once established very drought tolerant. An intriguing plant that also makes a great pot plant.


Most abundant within the north eastern South Island. It is highly threatened in the North Island and appears to be extinct around Lake Taupo. Small populations persist in the Hawkes Bay, southern Wairarapa and south Wellington coastline. In the South Island it appears to have suffered little obvious decline but it is rarely common. In some areas its past presence can be determined by hybrid swarms that exist between it and other New Zealand Muehlenbeckia species.

Chromosome No.

2n = 20

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


This page last updated on 12 Dec 2014