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A shrub to about 3 ft high; branches slender, with a strip of down above each leaf-axil running up to the base of the leaf above, or occasionally finely downy all over. Leaf-bud without sinus. Leaves spreading, lanceolate, 1⁄2 to 5⁄8 in. long, about 3⁄16 in. wide, tapered at the apex to a fairly acute point, usually glaucous above, glabrous except for the minutely ciliate margin. Inflorescence from the upper leaf-axils, two to three times as long as the subtending leaf; inflorescence axis downy; bracts shorter than the pedicels. Calyx-lobes ciliate, with a pale membranous border. Corollas white; tube about as long as the calyx, the corolla-lobes rounded, longer than the tube. Ovary and base of style downy. Capsules downy, rather pointed, more than twice as long as the calyx.
A native of the South Island of New Zealand. This species is part of the Veronica (Hebe) darwiniana aggregate as understood by Cheeseman, but the plant so named by Colenso is different, notably in having glabrous capsules (see further below). There is no wild material of H. glaucophylla in the Kew Herbarium, nor has any cultivated plant been seen which could unequivocally be referred to this species. The above description is therefore based on that given in Flora of New Zealand (Vol. 1 (1961), p. 917). A plant at Kew on the Temperate House terrace, which bore the label H. glaucophylla, disagrees with that species in a number of characters, notably in having glabrous capsules. A commercial plant seen under this name is H. albicans or near it. On the other hand the hebe known as H. darwiniana ‘Variegata’ is tolerably near to H. glaucophylla and so too are some plants in commerce as H. darwiniana. Both have slender, acute leaves.
H. darwiniana (Col.) Ckn. Veronica darwiniana Col. – This species is considered by Dr Lucy Moore (Fl. N.Z., Vol. 1, p. 946) to be of uncertain status. Colenso described it from specimens that he collected in North Island, in the hills behind Hawke’s Bay, but they have not been matched by any later collection. The specimens Colenso sent to Kew show that the species is very near to the later-named H. glaucophylla of South Island, but has glabrous ovaries and capsules. Whether the true H. darwiniana was ever introduced is not known, but Colenso certainly sent fruits and seeds to Sir Joseph Hooker, from which plants may have been raised. The plants grown in gardens as H. darwiniana ‘Variegata’ or as H. darwiniana are near to H. glaucophylla (see above); but one commercial plant so named was H. pinguifolia.
H. topiaria L. B. Moore – This species, first described in 1961 but known earlier, is perhaps not in cultivation in Britain at present (1971) but is in commerce in New Zealand. It is described as a low-growing, much-branched shrub, assuming in the open ‘a globular form as if clipped to shape’. Branchlets with two lines of rather coarse down. Leaf-buds without sinus. Leaves glaucous, spreading-erect, broad-elliptic or slightly obovate, about 1⁄2 in. long, 1⁄4 in. wide, almost glabrous. Inflorescences lateral, simple, very short; bracts almost as long as pedicels. Calyx-lobes rather broad, with a narrow membranous border, finely ciliate. Corolla white, tube broad, longer than calyx, the corolla-lobes rounded, as long as the tube. Capsules glabrous, about twice as long as the calyx. Native of Nelson Province (South Island).