Scientific Name:
Veronica lycopodioides Hook.f., Handb. New Zealand Fl. 211 (1864)
  • Hebe lycopodioides (Hook.f.) Andersen, Trans. New Zealand Inst. 56: 693 (1926)
  • Leonohebe lycopodioides (Hook.f.) Heads, Bot. Soc. Otago Newsl. 5: 9 (1987)
Lectotype (designated by Bayly & Kellow 2004): Wairau Gorge, 4-5000 ft, Travers 27, Herb. Hookerianum, K, three flowering pieces on upper left of sheet (which also includes material collected by Hector (Clarence Valley, 4000 ft), and Sinclair)
  • = Hebe lycopodioides var. patula G.Simpson & J.S.Thomson, Trans. & Proc. Roy. Soc. New Zealand 73: 164 (1943)
  • Leonohebe lycopodioides var. patula (G.Simpson & J.S.Thomson) Heads, Bot. Soc. Otago Newsl. 5: 9 (1987)
  • Hebe lycopodioides subsp. patula (G.Simpson & J.S.Thomson) Wagstaff & Wardle, New Zealand J. Bot. 37: 34 (1999)
Holotype: upper slopes of Mount Technical, Lewis Pass, grassland at 1200-1600 m, G. Simpson & J. S. Thomson, CHR 76005
The epithet lycopodioides refers to its resemblance to Lycopodium, a club moss.
Vernacular Name(s):
whipcord hebe

Whipcord shrub to 1 m tall. Stems decumbent to erect, glabrous except for caducous long, sinuate hairs at connate leaf bases. Leaf bud indistinct, its outer leaves fully grown, diverging. Leaves opposite-decussate, connate in pairs and encircling stem, appressed and usually covering the well-marked node above, crowded and overlapping, scale-like; lamina coriaceous, broadly ovate to deltoid, 1.5–2.5 mm long, 2.0–2.5 mm wide, dull to glossy olive-green or yellowish-green, prominently longitudinally ribbed especially when dry; surfaces glabrous or with an adaxial tuft of tangled hairs at apex; margin glabrous or eglandular-ciliate, entire; apex mucronate, sometimes sub-acute to acute; base broad; petiole absent. Inflorescence a terminal spike, 3.5–20.0 mm long; flowers crowded, 4–20, all bisexual; bracts opposite-decussate, connate, deltoid; pedicels absent. Calyx lobes 4–5 (5th lobe small, posterior), obtuse to acute, sub-equal, 2–3 mm long, ciliolate with mixed glandular and eglandular hairs. Corolla 5–8 mm diameter; tube white, 2.5–4.0 mm long, eglandular-hairy inside; lobes 4, white, sub-erect to spreading, sub-equal, elliptic or obovate, 3.5–5.0 mm long, obtuse to rounded, posterior lobe sometimes emarginate; nectar guides absent. Stamen filaments white, 2.5–4.5 mm long; anthers magenta. Style glabrous, 4–7 mm long. Capsules latiseptate, sub-acute, 2.0–3.4 mm long, 1.3–2.4 mm at widest point. Seeds ellipsoid, flattened, finely papillate, pale brown, 0.9–1.5 mm long.


Veronica lycopodioides is a distinctive species. Among the whipcord group, only V. poppelwellii and V. lycopodioides plants have ribbed leaves, but V. poppelwellii plants differ by their obtuse or sometimes sub-apiculate leaf apex.

Near Lewis Pass, plants of V. lycopodioides may have acute or very shortly apiculate leaves, slender branchlets, and low-growing habit. These have been called Hebe lycopodioides var. patula, but there is no sharp distinction. Some plants from northern localities lack the leaf ribbing or their leaves are only weakly ribbed near the margins, but these can be distinguished from local forms of V. hectorii by their sub-acute to acute apices (not rounded) and more strongly keeled leaves. In Otago, V. hectorii subsp. demissa plants have apiculate to mucronate leaves like those of V. lycopodioides, but these are not ribbed.

In V. lycopodioides and V. poppelwellii the thick leaf veins are close to the abaxial surface and join at their apices to form a marginal vein. In V. tetragona and V. hectorii the veins are also thick, but closer to the adaxial surface and do not join to form a common marginal vein. In V. tetragona and V. hectorii the bracts, but not the leaves, may be ribbed, and then they resemble the leaves of V. lycopodioides, except for being thinner.


South Island: Sounds Nelson, Marlborough, Canterbury, Westland (near the Main Divide), Otago, Southland (northern). A specimen of V. lycopodioides from Mt Dick, Eyre Mountains (AK 107864), included on the distribution map, is outside the normally accepted distribution range of V. lycopodioides and within the distribution of V. poppelwellii and its status remains uncertain. AK 8215–6 from Greenstone Valley has not been mapped, because the location is far west of the known distribution.


Penalpine to alpine grassland and shrubland. Recorded elevations range from 758 to 1830 m.

Indigenous (Endemic)

Flowers: December–February (sometimes November–April); fruits: January– April, persisting all year.


2n = 40 (see Bayly & Kellow 2006, as Hebe lycopodioides).


Veronica lycopodioides is classified in V. subg. Pseudoveronica sect. Hebe and informally in the “Flagriformes” group, also known as “whipcord hebes” (Albach & Meudt 2010; Bayly & Kellow 2006). The strongly ribbed leaves are seen otherwise in only V. poppelwellii , which probably indicates these are sister species, and this is supported by ITS and cpDNA sequence data (E.M. Low, unpublished data).

Albach, D.C.; Meudt, H.M. 2010: Phylogeny of Veronica in the Southern and Northern Hemispheres based on plastid, nuclear ribosomal and nuclear low-copy DNA. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 54: 457–471.
Andersen, J. 1926: Popular names of New Zealand plants. Transactions of the New Zealand Institute 56: 659–714.
Bayly, M.J.; Kellow, A.V. 2004: Lectotypification of names of New Zealand members of Veronica and Hebe (Plantaginaceae). Tuhinga, Records of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa 15: 43–52.
Bayly, M.J.; Kellow, A.V. 2006: An Illustrated Guide to New Zealand Hebes. Te Papa Press, Wellington.
de Lange, P.J.; Rolfe, J.R.; Barkla J.W.; Courtney, S.P.; Champion, P.D.; Perrie, L.R.; Beadel, S.N.; Ford, K.A.; Breitwieser, I.; Schönberger, I.; Hindmarsh-Walls, R.; Heenan, P.B.; Ladley, K. 2018: Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2017. New Zealand Threat Classification Series. No. 22. [Not Threatened]
de Lange, P.J.; Rolfe, J.R.; Champion, P.D.; Courtney, S.P.; Heenan, P.B.; Barkla, J.W.; Cameron, E.K.; Norton, D.A.; Hitchmough, R.A. 2013: Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012. New Zealand Threat Classification Series 3. Department of Conservation, Wellington. [as Hebe lycopodioides (Hook.f.) Andersen] [Not Threatened]
Garnock-Jones, P.J. 2023: Veronica. In: Breitwieser, I. (ed.) Flora of New Zealand – Seed Plants. Fascicle 9. Manaaki Whenua Press, Lincoln.
Garnock-Jones, P.J.; Albach, D.; Briggs, B.G. 2007: Botanical names in Southern Hemisphere Veronica (Plantaginaceae): sect. Detzneria, sect. Hebe, and sect. Labiatoides. Taxon 56: 571–582.
Heads, M. 1987: New names in New Zealand Scrophulariaceae. Botanical Society of Otago Newsletter 5: 4–11.
Hooker, J.D. 1864: Handbook of the New Zealand Flora: a systematic description of the native plants of New Zealand and the Chatham, Kermadec's, Lord Auckland's, Campbell's and Macquarie's Islands. Part I. Reeve, London.
Simpson, G.; Thomson, J.S. 1943: Notes on some New Zealand plants and descriptions of new species. Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New Zealand 73: 155–171.
Wagstaff, S.J.; Wardle, P. 1999: Whipcord Hebes - systematics, distribution, ecology and evolution. New Zealand Journal of Botany 37(1): 17–39.