Wahlenbergia pygmaea subsp. pygmaea


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

Common Name(s)

North Island 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 pygmaea Colenso subsp. pygmaea



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

Structural Class

Dicotyledonous Herbs other than Composites


Wahlenbergia pygmaea Colenso; Wahlenbergia pygmaea subsp. tararua J.A.Petterson


Endemic. New Zealand: North Island (main axial ranges from the Huiarau to Tararua Ranges and adjacent Volcanic Peaks (except Mt Taranaki).


Montane to alpine. Common in herbfield, tussock-grassland, on lava fields, and rocks. Usually above the forest line but extending down rivers.


Perennial rhizomatous herb with rosulate tufts of leaves at ground level. Leaves bright green, glossy, glabrous or with a few scattered hairs, petiolate; lamina spathulate, 10 × 3 to 20 × 5 mm, 2 mm wide. Leaf margins sparsely toothed, usually red-tinged. Flowers usually insect-pollinated, some forms self-fertile; erect or nodding on short upright scapes, 40-100 mm tall, which may be naked or 1-2-bracted. Corolla soft blue, or blue and white; up to 30 mm diameter, up to 18 mm long, broadly campanulate with tube as broad as or broader than long, lobes c.9 × 7 mm, spreading, broadly elliptic-lanceolate, acute. Calyx lobes c.3.0 × 1.5 mm, glabrous, narrow-triangular. Capsule c.10 × 6 mm, glabrous, domed cylindrical to plump barrel-shaped. Seeds ellipsoid, glossy brown.

Similar Taxa

Differs from subsp. drucei by its geographic isolation; by its spathulate leaves whose leaf margins are sparsely toothed and often red-tinged; and by the flowers which are soft blue, white or blue and white


December – May

Flower Colours



January - May

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from tip cuttings and the division of whole plants. Fresh seed germinates readily.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 36

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Not commercially available.


Wahlenbergia pygmaea seems only doubtfully distinct from the earlier named South Island endemic W. albomarginata, and many botanists regard them as conspecific. This requires further study. In the interim Wahlenbergia pygmaea subsp. tararua is here treated as part of W. pygmaea subsp. pygmaea because the morphological distinctions attributed to it by Petterson (1997) are variable and fall within the range of variation seen in W. pygmaea subsp. pygmaea north of the Tararua Ranges.


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.

This page last updated on 9 Aug 2016