Veronica benthamii


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'.
benthamii: Named in honour of George Bentham (1800 - 1884), considered the most prolific botanist of the nineteenth century.

Common Name(s)

Benthams Hebe

Current Conservation Status

2012 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon

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 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon
2004 - Range Restricted


2012 - RR, Sp


Veronica benthamii Hook.f.



Brief Description

Low-growing bright green bushy fleshy shrub bearing pairs of oval leaves and small purple flowers inhabiting Auckland and Campbell Islands. Leaves with a furry silvery margin, slightly notched. Flowers in a leafy spike to 10cm long.

Flora Category

Vascular - Native

Structural Class

Dicotyledonous Trees & Shrubs


Hebe benthamii (Hook.f.) Cockayne et Allan, Leonohebe benthamii (Hook.f.) Heads


Endemic. New Zealand: Auckland and Campbell Islands


Coastal to montane. Usually on peat amongst Chionochloa antarctica tussocks and shield fern (Polystichum vestitium). Sometimes grows around boulder and rock outcrops.


Bushy or spreading shrub up to 1 × 1 m. branches decumbent or ascending; branchlets pubescent or glabrous, if hairy then hairs white, bifarious or occasionally uniform; internodes 1.0-13.0-15.6 mm; leaves abscising at nodes. Leaf bid obscured by surrounding leaves, leaves usually overtopping bud. Leaves connate, erecto-patent to reflexed; lamina elliptic or obovate, coriaceous, flat, 10.0-33.0 × 3.5-14.5 mm; apex obtuse or truncate; midrib thickened below and depressed above; margin conspicuously puberulent, shallowly to deeply toothed; upper surface green, glabrous to hairy along midrib or hairy toward base. Inflorescences 11-30-flowered, mostly terminal, unbranched or with 3 or more branches (up to 4 lateral branches but never compound branching); peduncle 8-19 mm; rachis 16-93 mm. Bracts opposite and decussate, mostly free rarely connate, usually obovate sometimes elliptic, apex surmounted with a prominent gland, obtuse or subacute, occasionally emarginate. Flowers blue on pedicels 1-4 mm long, these hairy or glabrous. Calyx 3.0-8.5 mm, 4-6-lobed; lobes oblong or obovate, obtuse or subacute with a prominent apical gland, eglandular ciliate (hairs white, long and tangled), glabrous externally, hairy inside. Corolla tube 2.0-3.2 × 3.5-3.9 mm, cylindric, somewhat dorso-ventrally compressed, glabrous, < calyx; lobes 4-6, sky-blue or violet at anthesis, darkening to blue with age, obovate to circular, obtuse (posterior occasionally emarginate), erect to patent, > corolla tube; corolla throat blue or white. Stamen filaments blue, erect, 1.0-1.5 mm; anthers blue, 1.2-1.6 mm. Ovary 1.8-2.3 mm, 2-3-locular; style 2.1-3.2 mm. Capsules latiseptate (2-locular) or turgid (3-locular), subacute, 4.5-6.0 mm, hairy, septicidal splits sometimes extending only ¾-way to base, loculicidal split extending ¼-¾-way to base (usually < ½-way). Seeds 1.2-1.9 × 1.3-1.6 mm, straw-yellow or dark brown, strongly flattened, broad ellipsoid to discoid, winged.

Similar Taxa

Easily distinguished from all other New Zealand Veronica species by the leaves which are densely fringed by white hairs, often toothed; by the terminal inflorescence leaf-like bracts, blue flowers bearing 4-6 calyx and corolla lobes, and 2-3-locular ovaries and fruits.


October - May

Flower Colours

Blue,Violet / Purple


November - October

Propagation Technique

Difficult. Should not be removed from the wild


A Naturally Uncommon, Range-Restricted endemic abundant within its known habitats which are part of Nature Reserves and World Heritage Sites whose access requires permits issued by the New Zealand Department of Conservation. There are no known threats to this species

Chromosome No.

2n = 40

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 by P.J. de Lange (15 August 2005): Description modified from Bayly and Kellow (2006)

References and further reading

Bayly, M.; Kellow, A. 2006: An illustrated guide to New Zealand Hebes. Te Papa Press, Wellington.

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 16 Feb 2016