A shrub 4 to 8 ft high with stout glabrous branches; leaf-bud without sinus. Leaves 21⁄2 to 6 in. long, 1⁄2 to 11⁄4 in. wide, elliptic, oblong-elliptic, or oblong lanceolate, acute at the apex, dark green, almost glabrous, rather leathery in texture. Flowers white in simple racemes 3 to 6 in. long; bracts small, shorter than the pedicels. Calyx-lobes broad-oblong, obtuse or acute in the same flower. Corolla 1⁄4 in. or slightly more wide at the mouth; tube broad, twice as long as the calyx; corolla-lobes rounded at the apex, longer than the tube. Capsules glabrous, 1⁄4 to almost 1⁄2 in. long, much longer than the calyx.
Native of the North Island of New Zealand. A very striking species but also very tender.
var. latisepala (Kirk) Ckn. & Allan V. latisepala Kirk – Flowers bluish purple or deep violet. Calyx-lobes short and broad. Racemes usually shorter than the leaves. The material figured in the Botanical Magazine, n.s., t. 358, was taken from a plant in the Temperate House at Kew, propagated from one at Tresco Abbey in the Isles of Scilly. In this the flowers are of a deepish lavender-colour.
var. brevifolia (Cheesem.) L. B. Moore V. speciosa var. brevifolia Cheesem. – A distinct variety confined to one locality at the northern end of North Island. Flowers reddish purple or violet-purple. Leaves 1 to 21⁄2 in. long, 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. wide, oblong-obovate to narrow-oblong. Racemes about as long as the leaves. The tender garden variety H. ‘Headfortii’, raised at Headfort, Eire, from New Zealand seeds, seems to be very near to this variety in its botanical characters. It has oblong-elliptic leaves about 15⁄8 in. long; inflorescences borne in great numbers from the upper leaf-axils; flowers violet with a white throat. The flowering season is spring and early summer.