A graceful, leafless tree that can grow to 6m tall, with a stout branching trunk approximately 25cm diameter.
Branches are erect, grey-brown when mature, with conspicuous raised rings at the nodes. They are yellowish-green when actively growing and have a distinctly striate thin bark.
The uppermost branches are erect whilst those below are somewhat drooping.
Young shoots are:
Branchlets on older shoots are:
Petioles grow to 2.5mm and are:
Stipules clasp the shoot and are elongate-triangular, initially fleshy becoming dry and membranous, eventually reduced.
Leaves are only produced on seedlings and juvenile plants, and are reduced to scales on mature shoots.
Flowers grow in simple erect compact racemes to 7cm long. They are solitary, from nodes on mature branchlets, or in groups of up to 6 on flowering shoots, and have the following features:
Chromosome number 2n=32. (Purdie, 1985).
This rare plant might be confused with Carmichaelia stevensonii, itself a vulnerable endemic with a total population of fewer than 200 mature individuals, restricted to a few inland riverine sites in Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand.
Carmichaelia stevensonii has a more weeping habit, larger, more intensely coloured flowers in drooping racemes, and bigger seed pods (6 by 4mm) and seeds (2.5 by 2mm).