Veronica societatis


Veronica: Named after Saint Veronica, who gave Jesus her veil to wipe his brow as he carried the cross through Jerusalem, perhaps because the common name of this plant is 'speedwell'. The name Veronica is often believed to derive from the Latin vera 'truth' and iconica 'image', but it is actually derived from the Macedonian name Berenice which means 'bearer of victory'.

Common Name(s)


Current Conservation Status

2012 - Threatened - Nationally Critical

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 - Threatened - Nationally Critical
2004 - Threatened - Nationally Critical


2012 - OL
2009 - OL


Veronica societatis (Bayly et Kellow) Garn.-Jones



Brief Description

Low growing shrub sprawling through grass on Mt Murchison. Leaves blueish-green oval, dished, 9-24mm long by 4-8.5mm wide, overlapping. Leaf bud with small gap between base of leaves. Flowers white, in spikes to 4cm long towards tip of branches.

Flora Category

Vascular - Native

Structural Class

Dicotyledonous Trees & Shrubs


Hebe societatis Bayly et Kellow


Endemic. South Island, to the summit of Mt Murchison., Braeburn Range.


A local component of low sub-alpine herb field dominated by carpet grass (Chionochloa australis). So far it has only been found on rather steep, north-east facing slopes


Decumbent subshrub to 300 mm tall. Branches decumbent or ascending and unbranched for (60-)110-240(-370) mm from apex; old stems brown, young green or red-brown. Internodes 2.8-9.7 mm long. Leaf bud about length of mature leaf, sinus broad, and acute. Petiole 1-2 mm. Leaves erect to erecto-patent; lamina elliptic to obovate (5-)9-24(-37) x (2-)4-8.5(-10) mm, glaucous, coriaceous, concave, apex obtuse to subacute, base cuneate. Inflorescences 10-25-flowered, lateral, racemose, unbranched, 15-35 mm long, overtopping subtending leaves. Flowers hermaphrodite. Peduncles 45-70 mm long, pubescent. Bracts with lowermost pair opposite, then subopposite or alternate above. Pedicels shorter than bracts, suberect at fruiting. Calyx tapered, 2-3.5 mm, 4-lobed; lobes elliptic, subacute to obtuse. Tube 2-2.5 x 1.5 mm, white, funnelform. Corolla lobes elliptic to ovate or obtuse, white. Anthers purple. Capsules pale brown, 3.7-5 x 2.4-3.2 mm.

Similar Taxa

Distinguished from all other hebe species by the decumbent, sparsely branched habit (with ascending terminal branches), glaucous leaves, acute leaf sinus, shortly pedicellate flowers, bracts shorter than calyces, and corolla tubes that are equal to the calyces.


Unknown - because of the species recent discovery (February 2000) and the fact that it occurs in a relatively remote location, flowering and fruting times are not yet established

Flower Colours

Violet / Purple,White


Unknown - because of the species recent discovery (February 2000) and the fact that it occurs in a relatively remote location, flowering and fruting times are not yet established

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from semi-hardwood cuttings. Fresh seed should germinate easily.


Discovered in 2000. Known from just one site where there are 250 adult plants. Although not directly threatened, feral pigs have damaged and in some cases killed plants as they uproot the carpet grass in which this hebe grows. Veronica societatis meets the criteria of Nationally Critical because there are so few plants and because of the small area they occupy. It has yet to be found anywhere else.

Chromosome No.

2n = 42

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Seeds are wind dispersed (Thorsen et al., 2009).

Where To Buy

Not commercially available.



Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 1 October 2006. Description based on Bayly & Kellow (2006).

References and further reading

Bayly, M.J.; Kellow, A.V. Hebes, identification, classification and biology. Wellington, Te Papa Press

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 4 Apr 2016