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A genus of five species of deciduous or evergreen trees and shrubs, endemic to New Zealand. Leaves simple, varying in shape according to the age of the plant. Flowers white, usually in axillary cymes (more rarely the cymes are terminal, and sometimes the flowers are solitary in the leaf-axils). Stamens arranged in usually five bundles. Pistil of five to fifteen one-ovuled carpels, which are often winged and each of which develops into a dry, indehiscent, one-seeded capsule. Styles as many as there are carpels, united at the base; stigma capitate. The generic name derives from the Maori word for H. populnea – houhere.
The following account is based largely on the revision of the genus by the late Dr Allan in Flora of New Zealand (1961).
The specimen of the true H. lyallii at Wakehurst Place, Sussex, mentioned in the first printing of the present edition, grew in an overcrowded bed and unfortunately had to be removed.