Hebe speciosa (A.Cunn.) Andersen, Hebe speciosa (A.Cunn.) Cockayne et Allan nom. superf., nom. illeg.
Vascular – Native
Dicotyledonous Trees & Shrubs
2n = 40
Current conservation status
The conservation 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). 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.
2018 | At Risk – Declining
Previous conservation statuses
2012 | Threatened – Nationally Vulnerable | Qualifiers: RR
2009 | Threatened – Nationally Vulnerable
2004 | Threatened – Nationally Endangered
Low growing shrub bearing pairs of oval dark green glossy leathery leaves and spikes of magenta flowers inhabiting coastal areas between the Marlborough Sounds and Northland. Leaves to 100mm long by 51mm wide, with fringe of hairs. Leaf bud with small gap at base. Flower spike to 15cm long.
Endemic. North and South Islands. In the North Island known only from west coast. Formerly from Scots Point to Urenui. In the South Island from several sites in the Marlborough Sounds. Now only known from outer South Head (Hokianga Harbour), Maunganui Bluff, near Muriwai Beach, at two sites on cliffs west of Aotea Harbour, Mokau and at Titirangi Bay (Marlborough sounds). Recently it has been suggested that only the outer South Head, Maunganui Bluff and Muriwai populations are natural, the others resulting from past deliberate cultivation by Maori.
Coastal cliffs and headlands, in low windswept scrub and flaxland. Rarely under taller trees.
Spreading to somewhat sprawling shrub up to 2 x 3 m. Branches stout, becoming woody at base, spreading to sprawling, rarely erect, often layering on contact with ground. Branchlets stout, pliant, glabrous, yellow-green to green, internodes variable in length, though much longer than stem diameter. Leaf-bud with distinct sinus, glabrescent. Petiole stout, fleshy 5-20 mm. Leaves numerous, coriaceous, fleshy to almost succulent, glabrescent except of lamina margin, 50-200 x 25-80 mm, dark green, green to yellow-green and glossy above, much paler beneath, broadly elliptic to obovate-oblong or oblong, apex obtuse, often retuse, base obtuse; lamina margin distinctly enlarged, red-pigmented, finely pubescent. Inflorescence a simple, lateral, erect raceme 30-80 x 30-40 mm. Peduncle robust, fleshy, glabrous, 30-50 mm long. Flowers rather fleshy, rather crowded on raceme. Pedicels 2-8 mm, exceeding the bracts. Bracts narrowly subulate, ciliolate. Calyx-lobes 2-3 mm long, greenish-yellow to dark green, subacute, ciliolate. Corolla-tube and lobes dark magenta or red, 4-5 x 3-5 mm, exceeding calyx, lobes 5-6 mm long, obtuse, ciliolate. Capsules stout, robust, 6 x 4 mm, brown to dark brown, broadly ovate, apex acute, coriaceous.
Unlikely to be confused with other naturally occurring hebe sp. However, its extensive use in horticultural as parental stock for hybridism has resulted in numerous cultivars some of which have been sold, incorrectly, as Veronica speciosa. From the majority of these V. speciosa can be distinguished by its magenta-coloured flowers, and dark green to pale green fleshy leaves which always have a pink-red pigmented, finely hairy leaf margin.
Hebe speciosa may be found in flower throughout the year.
Fruit is usually present throughout the year.
Seeds are wind dispersed (Thorsen et al., 2009).
Easily grown from seed, cuttings and layered stem pieces. Cold sensitive and does best in an open, sunny, exposed place, in free draining soil. A spectacular plant ideal for a coastal property. Plants are rarely without flowers at any time of the year.
Threatened by weed invasion of its coastal habitat, browsing animals, and genetic pollution through planting of other hebe sp. and cultivars in the vicinity of wild populations. DNA based research has discovered that populations south of West Auckland (Muriwai) stem from deliberate past Maori plantings of this attractive red-flowered species (Armstrong & de Lange 2005). These plantings resulted from the movement of a limited amount of material from South Head, Hokianga, and as such these southerly populations lack sufficient genetic variability to sexually maintain themselves.
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’.
Fact sheet by Peter J. de Lange 1 October 2006. Description based on Bayly & Kellow (2006).
References and further reading
Armstrong, T.T.J.; de Lange, P.J.2005: Conservation genetics of Hebe speciosa (Plantaginaceae) and endangered New Zealand shrub. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 149: 229-239.
Bayly, M.J.; Kellow, A.V. 2006: 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
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Veronica speciosa Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/veronica-speciosa/ (Date website was queried)