A low, semi-evergreen shrub of dense, rounded habit, 3 to 6 ft high, twice as much in diameter in this country, with stiff, flat-growing branches, covered when young with a short pubescence. Leaves obovate, entire, rounded or slightly notched at the apex, 1⁄2 to 1 in. long, glabrous, firm, and thick in texture densely crowded and alternate on the branches. Flowers almost stalkless, very small (1⁄8 in. wide), borne in leaf-axils, with five brownish, reflexed petals of no beauty, and five stamens. Berry almost globular, about 1⁄4 in. diameter, white often stained with purple. Bot. Mag., t. 9426.
Native of New Zealand; first seen in this country about 1875. It is a shrub of great botanical interest in being related to the violet and pansy, and although with not the least beauty of flower, is very attractive in autumn when laden with its abundant pure white berries. It is quite hardy at Kew. One of the finest specimens in the British Isles is in the Glasnevin Botanic Garden, 6 ft high and 12 to 15 ft diameter. It retains some of its leaves through the winter, but can scarcely be called evergreen. Propagated by cuttings or by seeds.
H. obovata Kirk – A close ally of the preceding and not very clearly demarcated from it. The leaves are usually more than 1 in. long and the habit commonly more erect. It is found in both islands of New Zealand. A plant considered to belong to this species was 6 ft high at Wakehurst Place, Sussex, in 1933.