Hebe salicifolia

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Hebe salicifolia
Hebe salicifolia - Berlin Botanical Garden - IMG 8749.JPG
Scientific classification
Veronica salicifolia
Binomial name
Hebe salicifolia
(G. Forst.) Pennell

Hebe salicifolia, the koromiko,[1] or willow-leaf hebe, is a plant of the family Plantaginaceae, which is found throughout the South Island of New Zealand and in Chile. It is large, evergreen shrub, reaching 2 m in height, with light green, spear-shaped leaves that are up to 12 cm long. Flowers are white or pale lilac.

Species Description[edit]

The overall form of Veronica salicifolia can be described as “Willow like” due to its drooping appearance, hence the name New Zealand Willow.[2] Unlike most Hebes that contain erect seeding structures, V. salicifolia have downward hanging capsules that disperse via gravity.[3]Veronica salicifolia is one of the larger Hebe species, its woody structure allows it to grow to around one to five meters tall and it can have quite a wide spread foliage.[2] The narrow, oblong shaped leaves of V. salicifolia are oppositely arranged and are a dark to yellowish green colour, they also have hairs situated on the mid rib of the leaf.[2] Multiple white and/or violet flowers can be found clustered together on stems that grow up to 24 cm long.[2] Veronica salicifolia is one of the few Hebes that have a pleasantly strong scent.[3] They also produce a generous amount of nectar in comparison to other Hebes.[3] Some of the less obvious structures that help distinguish V. salicifolia from other Hebes are its distinctive leaf buds, large nodules and shape and colour of its reproductive structures.[2] For example, the stamens are considered to be short and the anthers are violet in colour.[2]

New Zealand range[edit]

Veronica salicifolia which is found throughout the Chile, and the South Island of New Zealand. As a form expressing a wide diversity in ecology and morphology, V. salicifolia habitats from coastal margins to alpine regions up to 2800 meters above sea level, which is regarded to be the highest place for a flowering plant in New Zealand.[4]

Habitat preferences[edit]

Veronica salicifolia is a hardy plant, shade can not be tolerated and full sun is a best choice. However, V. salicifolia can tolerate wet areas and often habitat on the edge of bush and wetlands.V. salicifolia often habitat in sunny areas with some shelter from the wind.[5]

Life cycle/Phenology[edit]

Veronica salicifolia is perennial and flowers in Summer and Autumn.[6]

Habitat Preferences[edit]

V. salicifolia prefer sites in good light, with well-drained soil. More moisture in soil can help quickly succumb. But they are considerable drought tolerance once established.[7] Forest tolerant tested shown that H. salicifolia is tolerant to freezing. In the test, 50% damage to leaves was reported at -0.6 °C.Technically, H. salicifolia has closed vegetative buds, which could give protection from frost by covering vulnerable apex, only open when fully grown.[8] However, Dallimore (1913) pointed that most Hebe is only specialized in habitats similar to New Zealand. Hebe may not be hardy except when grown in the southern and western countries of England, the west of Scotland, Ireland and various islands off the west coast of Britain.[8]

Predators, Parasites, and Diseases[edit]

'V. salicifolia attracts wide range of unspecialized and promiscuous insects. Beetles and flies, especially syrphids, collect mainly pollen, whereas bees visited the flowers for both pollen and nectar, and tachinid flies and Lepidoptera primarily collect nectar.Especially at low altitudes, small native solitary bees and flies are common visitors.[7] More specific survey was made by Mark & Steve (2013), native butterflies of New Zealand have been feeding on nectar of Veronica spp. As shown in the laboratory test, H. salicifolia flowers significantly increased the fitness of female butterflies.[5] The Australasian green shield bugs often sit their egg shells on a wide variety of native and naturalised trees and shrubs including koromiko. Adults and juveniles of Australasian green shield bugs feed by inserting a stylet into the plant and then suck plant sap and berries.[9] As for diseases, leaf spot and downy mildew may occur in poor condition.[8]

Other Information[edit]

V salicifolia is thought to be one of the first New Zealand Hebe species to be described by the English during Captain Cook's second voyage in 1773, by botanist Georg Forster and his father Johann. Hebes found up North in the Waitakere ranges were once mistaken for V. salicifolia due to their similar white and violet flowers, these are now distinguished as separate locally endemic Hebe.[3] Before the English discovered V. salicifolia, the Maori were utilizing the plants medicinal properties[3][10] The leaves were chewed to help cure diarrhea and applied to the skin to aid ulcers and wounds.[10] Koromiko is the general name for the Hebes in the Maori language, it is shared over a range of New Zealand Hebe species such as the Shore koromiko (Hebe elliptica) and varnished Koromiko (Hebe vernicosa) to name a few.[3]


  • Hebe salicifolia var. paludosa (Cockayne) Cockayne & Allan
  • Veronica salicifolia G. Forst. (basionym)
  • Veronica salicifolia var. paludosa Cockayne


  1. ^ "BSBI List 2007". Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-02-25. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Metcalf, L. (2006).Hebes. A guide to Species, Hybirds, and Allied Genera. Oregon: Timber Press.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Bayley, J.M., & Kellow, V.A. (2006). An Illustrated Guide to New Zealand Hebes. New Zealand: Te Papa Press.
  5. ^ a b Butterfly Breeding Guide.
  6. ^ Southland Community Nursery.
  7. ^ a b [Bayly M., Kellow A. (2006) An illustrated guide to New Zealand hebes. Wellington: Te Papa Press. ]
  8. ^ a b c [Metcalf L. J. (2001). International register of hebe cultivations. Canterbury: The Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture.]
  9. ^ Interesting Insects & other Invertebrates. Australasian green shield bug - Glaucias amyoti.
  10. ^ a b Ngā Tipu Whakaoranga database. (2017). Plant Use Details, Hebe salicifolia, Hebe stricta and similar spp. Koromiko. Kōkōmuka. Main reference Retrieved from http://maoriplantuse.landcareresearch.co.nz/WebForms/PeoplePlantsDetails.aspx?PKey=5B284386-E5E5-40D3-B677-5094A18152B6