A shrub of variable habit growing to 10 ft high in the wild, occasionally taller; leaf-bud without sinus; stems glabrous or finely downy. Leaves linear-lanceolate or lanceolate, 2 to 5 in. long, 1⁄3 to 3⁄4 in. wide, tapered to an acute or acuminate tip, entire or with a few remote small teeth, not glossy, glabrous except for fine down along the margins and midrib. Flowers white or pale lilac in simple racemes longer than the leaves; bracts and calyx-lobes downy all over their surface; corolla about 3⁄16 in. long, the tube slender, longer than the calyx, lobes rounded, shorter than the tube. Style and top of ovary downy. Capsules about twice as long as calyx.
A native of the North Island of New Zealand. It is part of H. salicifolia as understood until recently, but differs in the absence of a leaf-bud sinus and in the longer, more slender corolla-tubes. Also, in the typical variety described above the bracts and calyx-lobes are downy all over (only ciliate in H. salicifolia), but this distinction does not hold good for the varieties described below, both of which have probably been introduced:
var. atkinsonii (Ckn.) L. B. Moore V. salicifolia var. atkinsonii Ckn. – A shrub up to 6 ft or slightly more high. Leaves narrow-elliptic or linear-lanceolate, 2 to 4 in. long, acute at the apex, not glossy. Bracts and calyx-lobes downy only on the margins. According to Cockayne this variety rapidly colonises cuttings in the vicinity of Wellington, and also occurs in the northern part of South Island.
var. egmontiana L. B. Moore H. salicifolia var. egmontiana (Ckn.) Ckn. & Allan, nom. inedit. – A compact shrub to 10 ft high with linear-lanceolate leaves 21⁄4 to 23⁄4 in. long and about 1⁄3 in. wide, tapered to an acute point. According to Cockayne it forms pure stands on Mt Egmont at about 3,500 ft. In this and the preceding variety the bracts and calyx-lobes are downy only on the margins and the capsule is glabrous.
H. macroura (Benth.) Ckn. & Allan Veronica macroura Benth.; H. stricta var. macroura (Benth.) L. B. Moore – A small densely branched shrub. Leaves obovate-oblong to oblanceolate, 1 to 3 in. long, 1⁄2 to 11⁄4 in. wide, glabrous except for the sometimes downy margins. Leaf-bud without sinus. Flowers white or tinged with blue, densely arranged in racemes 2 to 4 in. long. Calyxlobes oblong, ciliate and sometimes downy on the surface. Capsules pendulous, i.e., pointing towards the base of the inflorescence. Native of the North Island of New Zealand. It is distinguished from H. stricta by the relatively shorter and broader leaves, but hybrids between the two are said to occur in the wild. The foliage and the absence of a leaf-bud sinus distinguish it from H. salicifolia.
Plants cultivated in Britain under the name H. cookiana seem to belong to H. macroura. They probably came here originally as V. macroura var. cookiana (Col.) Cheesem. and agree with that variety in having racemes about 6 in. long. They are said to be fairly hardy. The habit is low and spreading and the leaves are irregularly waved and puckered, 17⁄8 to 21⁄2 in. long, 3⁄4 to 11⁄4 in. wide, ciliate. Bracts and calyx-lobes downy all over the surface.