coastal harebell, glossy harebell
Wahlenbergia colensoi N.E.Br. pro. parte., Wahlenbergia littoricola subsp. vernicosa (J.A.Petterson) de Lange et E.K.Cameron
Vascular – Native
Herbs - Dicotyledons other than Composites
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 = 54
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
Indigenous. New Zealand: Kermadec, Three Kings, North Island and Chatham Islands. Also eastern Australia, Tasmania, Norfolk Island, and possibly the Tongan Islands
Coastal cliffs and islets, typically associated with seabird nesting sites, also volcanic and limestone outcrops both inland and near the sea.
Radicate, biennial to short-lived perennial herb. Root branching, fleshy, brittle. Stems 0.1-1.5 m tall, fleshy and brittle in life, juveniles with opposite leaves, adult plants with mostly alternate sessile leaves, some stems and laterals with lower leaves opposite. Branches often closely divaricating, young shoots hairy, with crowded leaves. Leaves usually elliptic to oblanceolate, 10-40 × 5-10 mm, regularly and closely serrate, glabrous, bright green, fleshy and glossy as if varnished (in life), sparsely hairy, with prominent midrib below; sometimes linear, entire. Flowers in different populations may be white, pastel Lilac, or flax blue, on short slender pedicels 20-70 mm long. Corolla campanulate, 10-20 mm diam., 9-12 mm long, tube cylindrical (cup-shaped), 2 × 2 to 4 × 4 mm, lobes 5 × 4 to 8 × 5 mm, oblong, subacute, spreading; style protruding slightly from tube, slightly thickened in upper half, white. Stigmas 3 or 4, small. Calyx lobes glabrous, 3 × 1 to 4.0 × 1.5 mm, narrowly triangular, becoming radiate or recurved in fruit. Capsule glabrous, obconic, 6 × 4 to 10 × 5 mm, flat-topped or slightly concave at the top, valves flat until ripe. Self-fertile. Seeds 0.5 mm long.
Easily distinguished from the other radiate New Zealand Wahlenbergia by the usually much larger size, glossy leaves, pale flax blue, pale lilac, or pure white campanulate flowers with cup-shaped tube and spreading lobes, flat-topped or dish-topped obconic capsules with radiating or recurved calyx lobes. (These appear somewhat twisted or curly in dried specimens), and unusual chromosome number (2n = 54 cf. 2n = 72 in the other radicate species)
October to May
November - June
Seeds are dispersed by ballistic projection and wind (Thorsen et al., 2009).
Easily grown from fresh seed and rooted pieces. Does best in a sunny situation in well drained soil. In suitable conditions it freely naturalises and can even become weedy.
wahlenbergia: Named in honour of Wahlenberg, a Swedish botanist and author of A Botany of Lapland.
Where To Buy
Not Commercially Available
Fact Sheet Prepared by P.J. de Lange 12 June 2007. Description adapted from Petterson (1997).
References and further reading
Petterson, J.A. 1997: Revision of the genus Wahlenbergia (Campanulaceae) in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Botanv 35: 9-54.
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: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Wahlenbergia vernicosa Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/wahlenbergia-vernicosa/ (Date website was queried)