H. parviflora is represented in cultivation mainly by the following variety:
var. angustifolia (Hook, f.) L. B. Moore V. parviflora var. angustifolia Hook, f.; H. angustifolia (A. Rich.) Ckn. & Allan; V. angustifolia A. Rich., not Fisch. & Link; V. squalida Kirk – A shrub 3 to 5 ft high, occasionally more, of rather thin, loose habit; branches slender, erect, glabrous and shining, turning dark brown towards the end of the season. Leaves stalkless (leaf-buds without sinus), linear, 11⁄2 to 31⁄2 in. long, 1⁄8 to 1⁄4 in. wide, tapering to a point, perfectly glabrous, often pointing downwards. Racemes in pairs from the leaf-axils near the summit of the shoot, 2 to 5 in. long, 3⁄4 in. wide; the basal flowers opening long before the terminal ones. Flowers white, tinged more or less with lilac, 1⁄6 to 1⁄4 in. diameter; tube of corolla slender, twice or thrice as long as the sepals, which are erect, oblong, edged with minute hairs. Individual flower-stalk slender, 1⁄8 to 1⁄4 in. long, and, like the main-stalk of the raceme, minutely downy. Bot. Mag., t. 5965.
Native of the South Island of New Zealand and probably also of North Island; introduced about 1868, perhaps before. It is very distinct in its narrow leaves and purple-brown stems, and has considerable merit as a flowering shrub, producing its graceful racemes from July until November in successive pairs near the top of the growing shoot. It succumbs in severe winters.
var. arborea (Buchan.) L. B. Moore V. arborea Buchan.; V. parviflora var. arborea (Buchan.) Kirk – A diffusely branched, evergreen shrub 6 ft and upwards high, but described as being sometimes in the wild a tree 20 to 25 ft high with a trunk 6 ft in girth near the base; young shoots slender, bearing the leaf-pairs from 1⁄8 to 1⁄2 in. apart. Leaves linear or linear-lanceolate, pointed, stalkless, 1 to 21⁄2 in. long, 1⁄6 to 1⁄4 in. wide, with minutely downy margins, otherwise glabrous. Flowers white with a tinge of lilac, 1⁄6 in. wide, densely produced during July and August on slender racemes up to 3 in. long from near the end of the branchlets; main flower-stalks downy. Calyx-lobes oblong, round-ended, margined with minute hairs; corolla-tube one and a half times the length of the calyx.
Native chiefly of the North Island, New Zealand, up to 2,000 ft altitude, but occurring also near Queen Charlotte Sound at the north of the South Island. It appears to be the largest of all the New Zealand hebes and a tree 28 ft high with a trunk 2 ft in diameter is recorded. This hebe is not common in cultivation and probably tender, but there are specimens in the Kew Herbarium from gardens at Lewes (1948) and Stockbridge, Hants (1961).
It should be noted that the description given above covers a wider range of plants than the original Veronica arborea of Buchanan. This was described from plants growing wild near Wellington which are ‘perfectly dome-shaped’ when young and have leaves 1 to 11⁄2 in. long, 1⁄6 in. wide and inflorescences scarcely longer than the leaves; leaves fascicled near the ends of the twigs (Fl. N.Z., Vol. 1, p. 913).