About 20 species of evergreen perennials from New Zealand and New Guinea mountains, mostly native to the former country. They are mat and cushion-formers with crowded, tiny simple leaves and mainly insignificant sessile, groundsel-like flowerheads formed of minute tubular florets. The large hummock-formers are remarkable members of the vegetable kingdom well meriting their vernacular name, (vegetable sheep). They are composed of a dense network of more or less erect stems and dead leaves with living shoots only at the tips. So dense and firm are old specimens that they can be sat upon without causing damage. In the wild individual plants can exceed 1m. in diameter and the largest may be more than one hundred years old.
The generally easier to grow mat-formers are suitable for a broad rock garden ledge, scree or raised bed, needing moist but well drained gritty soil. The hummock and cushion-formers are very much of a challenge to the enthusiast, requiring alpine house conditions with plenty of air movement and good light. A recommended compost is equal parts of John Innes No. 2, leafmould and granite chippings. After potting, the surface of the compost should be topped off with chippings or flat slivers of rock, making sure that no part of the plant actually rests on the soil. The soil must always be moist, though less so in winter. Propagation by fresh seed sown as soon as possible, or cuttings in gritty sand in late spring. (all from New Zealand)