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A low, spreading shrub 1 to 3 ft high; shoots furnished with extremely minute down. Leaves densely packed on the stem, 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. long, 1⁄8 to 3⁄16 in. wide, oval to obovate, pointed, tapered at the base to a short stalk, dark glossy green, glabrous except for minute hairs on the margins and stalks; on the spreading branches the stalks of the lower leaves are often twisted so as to bring the faces of all the leaves to pretty much the same plane. Racemes in pairs towards the ends of the shoots, 1⁄2 to 1 in. long, four- to eight-flowered; stalks downy. Flowers white, 1⁄4 to 1⁄3 in. in diameter; corolla-tube slightly longer than the calyx or about the same length. Seed-vessel dark brown, about twice the length of the calyx. Bot. Mag., n.s., t. 136.
Native mainly of the South Island of New Zealand, described from specimens collected on Arthur’s Pass at 3,000-4,000 ft; introduced to the Edinburgh Botanic Garden in 1910 by means of seeds sent by the famous New Zealand botanist Dr L. Cockayne. This is one of the daintiest of the hebes and flowers freely.
H. vernicosa (Hook, f.) Ckn. & Allan Veronica vernicosa Hook. f. – This species, a native of the South Island of New Zealand, is allied to H. canterburiensis and has the same ‘varnished’ foliage. It differs in its longer racemes (up to 2 in. long) with more numerous, smaller flowers; corolla-tubes shorter than the calyx; seed-vessels pale brown, about three times as long as the calyx.