Hebe topiaria L.B.Moore
Vascular – Native
Trees & Shrubs - Dicotyledons
The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.
2n = 122
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.
2012 | Not Threatened
Previous conservation statuses
2009 | Not Threatened
2004 | Not Threatened
Bushy very rounded shrub bearing pairs of blueish-green small oval leaves inhabiting northern South Island mountains. Leaves 8-21mm long by 3.5-8mm wide, u-shaped in cross section, tapering to tip and base. Leaf bud without gap at base. Flowers white, in spikes to 4cm long towards tip of twigs.
Northern South Island, from near Boulder Lake in the northwest to Amuri Pass and the Poplars Range in the south, and as far east as the Richmond Range.
It grows in shrubland and tussock grassland above the treeline. It can be one of the dominant species in some shrubland associations.
Bushy shrub (often of neat, rounded habit) to 1.2 m tall. Branches erect, old Stems brown or grey (mottled); branchlets green or red-brown or brown or black (when dry), pubescent (mostly with coarse white-golden hairs that are often upward-facing), hairs usually bifarious or rarely uniform; internodes (1-) 2- 6 (-10) mm; leaf decurrencies evident. Leaf bud distinct; sinus absent. Leaves erect to erecto-patent; lamina elliptic or obovate, concave, (5-) 8-21 (-23) x (3-) 3.5-8 mm; apex obtuse to acute or apiculate; 2 lateral secondary veins sometimes evident at base of fresh leaves; margin usually minutely papillate (on lower surface, especially toward apex) and rarely ciliolate; upper surface glaucous or glaucescent, dull or slightly glossy, with many stomata, usually hairy along midrib and rarely covered with minute glandular hairs; lower surface glaucous. Inflorescences with 9-33 flowers, lateral, unbranched, 1-3 (-4) cm; peduncle 0.2-0.8 (-1.1) cm; rachis 0.6-2.4 (-3.2) cm. Bracts alternate (but often with an opposite basal pair), deltoid (sometimes narrowly) or elliptic (basal bracts often larger, lanceolate to elliptic), acute lo obtuse. Flowers hermaphrodite or female (on different plants). Pedicels 0.5-2.5 mm. Calyx 1.5-2.8 mm; lobes elliptic or ovate, obtuse to acute. Corolla tube hairy inside; tube of hermaphrodite flowers 1.5-2.5 mm, longer than calyx; tube of female flowers approximately 2 mm, longer than calyx (but sometimes barely); lobes white at anthesis, elliptic (often broadly) or circular, obtuse, suberect to recurved, approximately equalling corolla tube. Stamen filaments incurved at apex in bud, 2.5-4.5 mm; anthers magenta, 1.25-1.5 mm. Ovary 1.2-1.5 mm; ovules approximately 12-14 per locule; style 3.5-6.5 mm. Capsules subacute, 4-5 x 2.5-3.5 mm, loculicidal split extending less than ¼-way lo base. Seeds flattened (sometimes strongly), more or less ellipsoid to discoid or irregular, not winged or only weakly winged, brown, 1.2-2 x 0.9-1.3 (-1.8) mm, micropylar rim 0.2-0.5 mm.
The combination of usually glaucous leaves and compact habit distinguishes V. topiaria from most other species of small-leaved “Occlusae” (see Bayly & Kellow, 2006). Its leaves can be similar to those of V. glaucophylla, from which it is distinguished in having glabrous ovaries, and corolla tubes that are always longer than calyces.
(December-) January-February (-April)
Seeds are wind dispersed (Thorsen et al., 2009).
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’.
topiaria: Refers to the compact, globular habit of this shrub, with the appearance of topiary.
The species shows considerable variation in the shape and size of the leaves. Leaves range from approximately 8 x 4 mm to approximately 22 x 6 mm, from narrowly to broadly elliptic or obovate, and with apices that are rounded to acute.
The four easternmost and somewhat disjunct collections represented on the distribution map (see Bayly & Kellow, 2006) are from Mt Richmond (CHR 286388), Mt Starveall (CHR 76140), Motueka River Left Branch (CHR 401652) and the Red Hills (CHR 387478). Some of these specimens are sterile and/or difficult to identify with certainty, but they have most of the critical features of V. topiaria. Since some of these areas (e.g. Mt Richmond) have been intensively botanised, the relative paucity of collections might suggest that V. topiaria is not as plentiful or conspicuous in these areas as it is in wetter mountains to the west and south.
Description adapted by M. Ward from Bayly & Kellow (2006).
References and further reading
Bayly M. and 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
NZPCN Fact Sheet citation
Please cite as: Ward, M.D. (Year at time of access): Veronica topiaria Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/veronica-topiaria/ (Date website was queried)