Wahlenbergia vernicosa


Wahlenbergia: Named in honour of Wahlenberg, a Swedish botanist and author of A Botany of Lapland.
vernicosa: Varnished

Common Name(s)

Coastal Harebell, Glossy Harebell

Current Conservation Status

2012 - Not Threatened

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

2009 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened


Wahlenbergia vernicosa J.A.Petterson,



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 Herbs other than Composites


Wahlenbergia colensoi N.E.Br. pro. parte., Wahlenbergia littoricola subsp. vernicosa (J.A.Petterson) de Lange et E.K.Cameron


Indigenous. New Zealand: Kermadec, Three Kings, North Island and Chatham Islands. Also eastern Australia, Tasmania, Norfolk Island, and possibly the Tongan Islands


Coastal cliffs and islets, typically associated with seabird nesting sites, also volcanic and limestone outcrops both inland and near the sea.


Radicate, biennial to short-lived perennial herb. Root branching, fleshy, brittle. Stems 0.1-1.5 m tall, fleshy and brittle in life, juveniles with opposite leaves, adult plants with mostly alternate sessile leaves, some stems and laterals with lower leaves opposite. Branches often closely divaricating, young shoots hairy, with crowded leaves. Leaves usually elliptic to oblanceolate, 10-40 × 5-10 mm, regularly and closely serrate, glabrous, bright green, fleshy and glossy as if varnished (in life), sparsely hairy, with prominent midrib below; sometimes linear, entire. Flowers in different populations may be white, pastel Lilac, or flax blue, on short slender pedicels 20-70 mm long. Corolla campanulate, 10-20 mm diam., 9-12 mm long, tube cylindrical (cup-shaped), 2 × 2 to 4 × 4 mm, lobes 5 × 4 to 8 × 5 mm, oblong, subacute, spreading; style protruding slightly from tube, slightly thickened in upper half, white. Stigmas 3 or 4, small. Calyx lobes glabrous, 3 × 1 to 4.0 × 1.5 mm, narrowly triangular, becoming radiate or recurved in fruit. Capsule glabrous, obconic, 6 × 4 to 10 × 5 mm, flat-topped or slightly concave at the top, valves flat until ripe. Self-fertile. Seeds 0.5 mm long.

Similar Taxa

Easily distinguished from the other radiate New Zealand Wahlenbergia by the usually much larger size, glossy leaves, pale flax blue, pale lilac, or pure white campanulate flowers with cup-shaped tube and spreading lobes, flat-topped or dish-topped obconic capsules with radiating or recurved calyx lobes. (These appear somewhat twisted or curly in dried specimens), and unusual chromosome number (2n = 54 cf. 2n = 72 in the other radicate species)


October to May

Flower Colours

Violet / Purple,White


November - June

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from fresh seed and rooted pieces. Does best in a sunny situation in well drained soil. In suitable conditions it freely naturalises and can even become weedy.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 54

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Seeds are dispersed by ballistic projection and wind (Thorsen et al., 2009).

Where To Buy

Not Commercially Available


Fact Sheet Prepared by P.J. de Lange 12 June 2007. Description adapted from Petterson (1997).

References and further reading

Petterson, J.A. 1997: Revision of the genus Wahlenbergia (Campanulaceae) in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Botanv 35: 9-54.

Thorsen, M. J.; Dickinson, K. J. M.; Seddon, P. J. 2009. Seed dispersal systems in the New Zealand flora. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 11: 285-309

This page last updated on 27 Apr 2017