Veronica tetragona subsp. tetragona
Podocarpus ?dieffenbachii Hook., Hebe tetragona (Hook.) Anderson subsp. tetragona, Hebe tetragona (Hook.) Cockayne et Allan nom. superf. nom. illeg., Leonohebe tetragona (Hook.) Heads,
Vascular – Native
Trees & Shrubs - Dicotyledons
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) – 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.
Please note, threat classifications are often suggested by authors when publications fall between NZTCS assessment periods – an interim threat classification status has not been assessed by the NZTCS panel.
- Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2017 . 2018. 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. Department of Conservation. Source: NZTCS and licensed by DOC for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence.
2017 | Not Threatened
Previous conservation statuses
2012 | Not Threatened
2009 | Not Threatened
2004 | Not Threatened
Bushy shrub bearing erect knobbly yellowish-green twigs inhabiting the Volcanic Plateau and East Cape mountains. Twigs 2.8-3.5mm wide, square in cross-section, Leaves scale-like, 2-3.2mm long, with thickened tip, margins hairy (lens needed), flowers white, in clusters of 2-12 at tip of twigs.
Mountains of North Island, including the Raukumara Range, volcanoes of the central North Island, Kaimanawa Range, Kaweka Range and northern Ruahine Range (Otupae Range).
Grows in subalpine shrubland/penalpine grassland.
Spreading low or bushy shrub to 0.6 m tall, of whipcord form. Branches erect or ascending; internodes (0.5-) 0.6-1.2 (-1.6) mm long: strongly tetragonous to cruciform in cross section; maximum width of ultimate branchlets (2.4-) 2.8-3.5(-4.5) mm; connate leaf bases hairy; nodal joint distinct, often hidden and/or exposed (can vary on one branch); leaves not readily abscising, persistent along the stem for some distance. Leaves connate, appressed or erect; lamina (1.8-) 2-3.2 (-4) mm long, strongly keeled and narrowed toward elongated tip; apex acute to subacute; margin ciliate; lower surface yellowish-green or dark green, veins not visible, glossy. Reversion leaves incised or entire, glabrous. Inflorescences with 2-12 flowers, terminal, unbranched, 0.35-1.2 cm. Bracts opposite and decussate, connate, ovate or deltoid or oblong. obtuse to subacute (sometimes more or less attenuate toward apex), sometimes hairy outside (near basal, connate portion). Flowers hermaphrodite. Calyx 2-3.2 mm, 4-5-lobed (5th lobe small, posterior): lobes ovate or elliptic. Corolla tube hairy inside, 1.5-2.1 x 1.7-2 mm, funnelform, shorter than (usually) or equalling calyx; lobes white at anthesis, ovate or elliptic (sometimes broadly), obtuse, erect to recurved, longer than corolla tube. Stamen filaments 3.3-3.7 mm; anthers magenta or purple, 1.4-1.7 mm. Ovary 0.6-0.8 mm, apex (in septum view) obtuse or slightly emarginate; ovules 10-12 per locule, in 1-2 layers; style approximately 3.4-6 mm. Capsules obtuse or truncate, 1.5-3 x 1.7-2.4 mm, loculicidal split extending 1/4-½-way to base. Seeds flattened, ellipsoid (sometimes broadly) or irregular, more or less smooth, pale brown, (0.9-) 1.1-1.5 x (0.7-) 0.8-1.1 mm, micropylar rim 0.2-0.4 mm.
Similar to V. tetragona subsp. subsimilis, which it does not occupy the same geographic range (apart from a potential central Ruahine Range cross over), V. tetragona subsp. tetragona is found north of the Mokai Patea Range in the Ruahine Range; Central Plateau mountains and further north-east in the Raukumara Range. Key features of the species include: anterior calyx lobes free for most of their length; leaves not obviously ribbed, with conspicuous nodal joints; internodes mostly hidden. It is most similar to V. hectorii, from which it is distinguished by having leaves that are thickened al their apices (to varying extents), and a distinctive flavonoid profile (Markham et al. 2005). It is the only whipcord species of North Island. It sometimes hybridises with V. odora (Mitchell et al. 2007).
(January-) February-May (-November)
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’.
tetragona: From the Greek tetragonum ‘tetragon’, refers to a four-angled part of the plant’s anatomy.
A range of views have been presented on the classification of plants included under this species and V. hectorii. Two species (V. tetragona with two subspecies, and V. hectorii with three subspecies) are accepted here (Bayly & Kellow 2006). However, Ashwin (in Allan 1961) accepted five species (two of which had two varieties), Druce (1980, 1993) accepted one species (with six varieties/subspecies), Heads (1994a, as Leonohebe) accepted five species (but noted that they are “perhaps better treated as five or six subspecies of a single species”), and Wagstaff & Wardle (1999) accepted two species (one with six subspecies}. Defining two species on the basis of leaf apex thickening, Flavonoid profile and geographic distribution seems useful for the present but may not be a long-term solution. Further data are needed to assess whether V. tetragona and V. hectorii are most closely related to each other, and whether each is monophyletic (i.e. V. hectorii might be paraphyletic with respect to V. tetragona or vice versa). It may be that, when more is known about the relationships of these taxa, the most appropriate scheme will include all under one species, as suggested by Druce (1980, 1993) and Heads (1994). This would require publication of several new subspecific combinations under V. tetragona (the name with priority).
Analyses of ITS sequences published by Wagstaff & Wardle (1999) suggested that V. tetragona sensu stricta is more closely related to some larger-leaved members of Veronica than to the other whipcords (including subsp. subsimilis). Although supported in the context of their data, it seems unlikely the result is a correct assessment of relationships. ITS sequence variation within the whipcords is low and some characters are homoplasious. Trees showing the whipcords as monophyletic (obtained by reanalysis of the ITS data) are only one step longer than Wagstaff and Wardle’s shortest trees; if other relevant data (e.g. on leaf form and inflorescence structure) were also considered in such analyses the results would be different.
Where To Buy
Not commercially available
Description adapted by M. Ward from Bayly & Kellow (2006).
References and further reading
Allan, H.H. 1961: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. 1. Wellington: Government Printer.
Bayly, M.J., Kellow, A.V. 2006: An illustrated guide to New Zealand Hebes. Wellington, N.Z.: Te Papa press pg. 92-94.
Druce, A.P. I980: Trees, shrubs, and Lianes of New Zealand (including wild hybrids). Unpublished checklist held at Landcare Research, Lincoln, New Zealand. (Copy also held in the library of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington.)
Druce, A. P. 1993: Indigenous vascular plants of New Zealand. 9th revision. Unpublished checklist held at Landcare Research, Lincoln, New Zealand. Copy also held in the library of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington.
Heads, M.J. 1994: Biogeography and evolution in the Hebe complex (Scrophulariaceae): Leonohebe and Chionohebe. Candollea 49: 81-119.
Markham, K.R., Mitchell, K.A., Bayly, M.J., Kellow, A.V., Brownsey, P.J. and Garnock-Jones, P.J. 2005: Composition and taxonomic distribution of leaf flavonoids in Hebe and Leonohebe (Plantaginaceae) in New Zealand - l. “Buxifoliatae”, “Flagriformes” and Leonohebe. New Zealand Journal of Botany 43: 165-203.
Mitchell, K.A., Kellow, A.V., Bayly, M.J., Markham, K.R., Brownsey, P.J., & Garnock‐Jones, P.J. 2007: Composition and distribution of leaf flavonoids in Hebe and Leonohebe (Plantaginaceae) in New Zealand—2. “Apertae”, “Occlusae”, and “Grandiflorae”. New Zealand Journal of Botany, 45(2): 329-392.
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 tetragona subsp. tetragona Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/veronica-tetragona-subsp-tetragona/ (Date website was queried)