Veronica hectorii subsp. demissa
Hebe demissa G.Simpson, Hebe hectorii subsp. demissa (G.Simpson) Wagstaff et Wardle, Leonohebe hectorii var. demissa (G.Simpson) Heads
Vascular – Native
Trees & Shrubs - Dicotyledons
2n = 40
Current conservation status
The threat classification status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2017 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS) – more information about this can be found on the NZTCS website This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2012 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: By Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, John W. Barkla, Shannel P. Courtney, Paul D. Champion, Leon R. Perrie, Sarah M. Beadel, Kerry A. Ford, Ilse Breitwieser, Ines Schönberger, Rowan Hindmarsh-Walls, Peter B. Heenan and Kate Ladley. Please note, threat classifications are often suggested by authors when publications fall between NZTCS assessment periods – a suggested threat classification status has not been assessed by the NZTCS panel.
2017 | Not Threatened
Previous conservation statuses
2012 | Not Threatened
2009 | Not Threatened
2004 | Not Threatened
Spreading low growing shrub bearing narrow short scaly twigs inhabiting southern South Island mountains. Twigs 1.5-2mm wide. Leaves scale-like, closely-packed, pointed, clasping stem, with a hairy margin (lens needed). Flowers white, in groups of 6-8 at tips of twigs.
South Island – Otago and Southland from the Waitaki Valley and Rock and Pillar range in the east to the Forbes Mountains in the west.
Penalpine grassland and subalpine shrubland.
Spreading low or bushy shrub to 1 m tall, of whipcord form. Branches erect or ascending or spreading; internodes 0.6-1 .9 (-2.7) mm; branchlets, including leaves, 1.3-4 (-4.6) mm wide; connate leaf bases hairy (at least when young; but sometimes connate portion deeply furrowed and hairs not visible); nodal joint distinct, either hidden or exposed; leaves not readily abscising, persistent along the stem for some distance. Leaves connate, appressed; lamina 1.2-2.7 (-3.1) mm, not thickened near the apex; apex obtuse or subacute or apiculate or mucronate; margin ciliate or ciliolate (at least when young, but hairs often deciduous with age); lower surface dark green or bronze- or yellowish-green, veins not visible, glossy. Reversion leaves incised or entire, glabrous. Inflorescences with 4-16 flowers, terminal, unbranched, 0.35-1.5cm; rachis densely hairy (with long, white, tangled hairs). Bracts opposite and decussate, connate, ovate or deltoid, obtuse or apiculate or subacute, sometimes hairy outside (near basal, connate portion). Flowers hermaphrodite. Calyx 1.8-3.5 (-4.2) mm, 4-5-lobed (5th lobe small, posterior), with anterior lobes free for most of their length or united to 1/3-2/3-way to apex; lobes elliptic, obtuse or subacute, with mixed glandular and eglandular cilia (glandular hairs usually obscured by long eglandular hairs). Corolla tube hairy inside, 1.5-3.3 x 1.3-2.6 mm. cylindric or funnelform, slightly shorter to slightly longer than calyx; lobes white at anthesis, ovate or elliptic, obtuse. suberect to recurved, longer than corolla tube. Stamen filaments 3.5-4.2 mm; anthers magenta or purple or pink, 1.1-1.7 mm. Ovary ovoid or somewhat globose, 0.6-1 mm, apex (in septum view) obtuse or slightly emarginate or didymous; ovules approximately 18-34 per locule, in 1-3 layers; style 3.3-6.5 mm. Capsules obtuse or subacute, 1.8-3.2 x 1.8-2.5 mm, loculicidal split extending ¼-½-way to base. Seeds flattened, ellipsoid to oblong, more or less smooth, straw-yellow or brown, 0.9-1.4 x 0.5-0.8 mm, micropylar rim 0.2-0.5 mm.
Key features of the species include; anterior calyx lobes free for most of their length; leaves not obviously ribbed; conspicuous nodal joints; and internodes mostly hidden. It is most similar to V. tetragona and can distinguished from this species by V. tetragona having leaves that are thickened at their apices (to varying extents). Geographically each species does not overlap, the V. tetragona group are North island species and the V. hectorii group are South Island residents. Distinguished from V. hectorii subsp. coarctata and V. hectorii subsp. hectorii by the apices of at least some leaves on V. hectorii subsp. demissa having an apiculus or mucro greater than 0.05mm long. Geographically distinguished from V. hectorii subsp. coarctata, these two subspecies do not overlap, the former being found in the northern-west South Island, compared to V. hectorii subsp. demissa being found in the central southern South Island.
(November-) December-March (-April)
(January-) February-June (-December)
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’.
hectorii: Named after Sir James Hector, 19th century New Zealand geologist and botanist who was originally from Scotland
The two southernmost subspecies (demissa and hectorii) probably intergrade. The shape of the leaf apices varies almost continuously, from rounded to just perceptibly apiculate, to very prominently mucronate. Mucronate-leaved plants (subsp. demissa) generally occur on drier mountains in the east, and obtuse-leaved plants (subsp. hectorii) occur on wetter mountains in the west, with some overlap (e.g. in the Forbes Mountains). Clearly demarcating the two subspecies is not straightforward and different circumscriptions (or no division at all) could be argued for. The type of V. hectorii is among a group of specimens that are most difficult to place that is, those with barely perceptible apicula/mucros. The circumscriptions adopted here preserve the traditional uses of the names hectorii and demissa.
Two additional subspecies of V. hectorii (described as distinct species by Cockayne 1909; Simpson 1952) were recognised in the recent treatment of Wagstaff & Wardle (1999). One, subsp. laingii, was distinguished on the basis of branchlet width. The other, subsp. subulata, was distinguished on the basis of mucro length. Variation in these characters, including substantial variation within single populations and small geographic areas, is such that no clear grounds have been found for the recognition of these subspecies. Subsp. laingii is included here under subsp. hectorii, and subsp. subulata is included under subsp. demissa.
Description adapted by M. Ward from Bayly & Kellow (2006).
References and further reading
Bayly, M.J., Kellow, A.V. 2006. An illustrated guide to New Zealand Hebes. Wellington, N.Z.: Te Papa press pg. 94-98.
Cockayne, L. 1909. Report on a Botanical Survey of Stewart Island. Wellington: Government Printer.
Simpson, G. 1952. Notes on some New Zealand plants and descriptions of new species (no. 5).
Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand79: 419-35.
Wagstaff, S. J. and Wardle, P. 1999. Whipcord hebes - systematics, distribution, ecology and evolution. New Zealand Journal of Botany 37: 17-39.
NZPCN Fact Sheet citation
Please cite as: Ward, M.D. (Year at time of access): Veronica hectorii subsp. demissa Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/veronica-hectorii-subsp-demissa/ (Date website was queried)