A pygmy shrub 6 to 12 in. high, forming a tiny compact thicket of flat green branches, which perform the functions of the almost entirely absent leaves. Young shoots without down, ribbed, about 1⁄16 in. wide. Flowers 3⁄16 in. long, solitary or a few together, bright violet; calyx bell-shaped with short teeth, the lower part of it as well as the flower-stalk usually silky-downy. Pod flattened, 1⁄4 to 1⁄3 in. long, roundish ovate, ending in a beak, usually one-seeded; seeds black.
Native of the South Island of New Zealand, where it occurs up to an altitude of 3,000 ft, but is rare and local; introduced to Kew in 1892. Cheeseman describes the leaves of young plants as orbicular and notched at the end. The species is quite hardy at Kew and flowers and bears seed there regularly. Whilst it must be regarded chiefly as a curiosity it is worth the small space it requires in the rock garden for its interest. Amongst the three or four species of similar dwarf stature this is distinct in its one-seeded pods.
C. orbiculata Colenso C. enysii var. orbiculata (Colenso) Kirk – An allied species differing in its broader branchlets (about 1⁄8 in. wide) and olive-green, black-mottled seeds. Native of the North Island.
From the Supplement (Vol. V)
† cv. 'Pringle'. – Free-flowering and of compact habit, making a mound about 6 in. wide and 2 in. high in four to five years. Collected in Canterbury, South Island, in 1977. Award of Merit, June 1984, when shown by the County Park Nursery (Bull. Alp. Gard. Soc., Vol. 52, pp. 371-2 (1984)).
Mr Graham Hutchins has pointed out that most plants grown as C. enysii are really the closely related C. orbiculata, mentioned under it on page 500. Another dwarf species now in cultivation is C. monroi Hook. f., figured in Philipson and Hearn, Rock Garden Plants of the Southern Alps, pl. 7 (1962).