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An evergreen shrub 5 ft or more high (in the wild sometimes a small tree 15 ft high); young shoots, undersurface of leaves, leaf-stalks, and flower-stalks all densely clothed with a pale greyish or rust-coloured down. Leaves of leathery texture, linear to linear-oblong, obscurely or not at all toothed, pointed, very shortly stalked, 3 to 7 in. long, 1⁄3 to 1 in. wide, margins recurved, upper surface glabrous, the veins conspicuously sunken above, very prominent beneath, proceeding from the midrib to the leaf margins at almost right angles; midrib yellow on the upper surface. Panicles terminal and several together, forming a group of flower-heads 4 in. or more wide. Flower-heads 3⁄16 to 3⁄8 in. wide, each carrying from eight to twelve florets, four or five of which have rays about 1⁄8 in. long. Bot. Mag., n.s., t. 645.
Native of North and South Islands, New Zealand, up to 5,000 ft altitude; discovered by W. T. L. Travers in 1864 on the mountains near Rotoroa. It was grown at Kew, but although it survived mild winters out-of-doors in sheltered spots, it was not genuinely hardy there. Like most of the olearias it will only be seen at its best in the milder parts. The leaves make it one of the most distinct at the genus; the midrib is very prominent beneath, and the veins, leaving it in right angles, divide the lower surface into a long series of roughly rectangular hollows. It grows well at Wakehurst Place in Sussex, where there is a plant about 10 ft high above The Slips, which sheds its bark in large strips. O. lacunosa rarely flowers in this country and the Wakehurst plant has never done so. It is also exceedingly difficult to raise from cuttings. But a hardwood cutting taken in October was rooted recently at Wakehurst in a cold frame and produced in inflorescence when four years old and still in a pot. (The plant above The Slips died in 1975.)