Scientific Name:
Veronica phormiiphila Garn.-Jones in Garnock-Jones et al., Taxon 56: 578 (2007)
  • Veronica salicifolia var. paludosa Cockayne, Trans. New Zealand Inst. 48: 202 (1916)
  • Hebe salicifolia var. paludosa (Cockayne) Cockayne & Allan, Trans. New Zealand Inst. 57: 18 (1926)
  • Hebe paludosa (Cockayne) D.A.Norton & de Lange, New Zealand J. Bot. 36: 532 (1998)
Lectotype (designated by Moore, in Allan 1961): swamp, Lake Ianthe, Westland, L. Cockayne 8118, AK 7776. Isolectotype: WELT 16439
The epithet means Phormium-loving, referring to the habitat of this species in wet sites often associated with harakeke, Phormium tenax.
Vernacular Name(s):
kōkōmuka; koromiko

Bushy shrub to 5 m tall. Stems erect, eglandular-puberulent; hairs usually uniform, sometimes bifarious. Leaf bud distinct, its leaves appressed at margins until fully grown; sinus rounded to elliptic-oblong. Leaves opposite-decussate, erecto-patent, spreading with age; lamina sub-coriaceous, linear-lanceolate to -elliptic, 30–86 mm long, 5.5–14.0 mm wide, glossy green above, pale green beneath; midrib evident, secondary veins evident when fresh; surfaces with eglandular hairs along midrib above and often beneath, sometimes also with minute glandular hairs; margin ciliolate, cartilaginous, entire or with distant minute teeth in 1–4 pairs; apex acuminate; base abruptly cuneate to truncate; petiole 1–4 mm long. Inflorescence a lateral raceme, 93–190 mm long; flowers crowded, 100–150, all bisexual; bracts alternate or loosely whorled, linear to narrowly deltoid, ≤ pedicels; pedicels spreading, sometimes recurved at fruiting, 1–5 mm long, puberulent all around. Calyx lobes 4, sub-acute to acuminate, 1.5–2.5 mm long, equal, mixed eglandular- and glandular-ciliolate; tube sometimes hairy. Corolla 4–6 mm diameter; tube white, 2.3–3.5 mm long, ≥ calyx, eglandular-hairy inside and sometimes outside; lobes 4, white or tinged pale purplish, erect or erecto-patent, sub-equal, narrowly linear to elliptic, 3.0–4.8 mm long, obtuse to sub-acute; nectar guides absent. Stamen filaments white, 6.5–8.5 mm long; anthers purple or blue. Style glabrous or sometimes sparsely hairy, 7.0–7.3 mm long. Capsules latiseptate, sub-acute to truncate, glabrous, 3–4 mm long, 2.0–2.5 mm at widest point. Seeds broadly ellipsoid to discoid, flattened, smooth, straw-yellow to pale brown, 0.8–1.5 mm long.


V. phormiiphila plants are similar to both V. salicifolia and V. leiophylla. Plants of V. salicifolia can be distinguished by their broader, less evenly tapered leaves, and their branchlets are sometimes glabrous (though often puberulent, like those of V. phormiiphila). Although these distinctions are minor and qualitative, plants of V. phormiiphila have 2n = 80 and occur in wetlands, often in standing water.

V. phormiiphila plants are also difficult to distinguish from V. leiophylla, but the latter have shorter and less-tapered leaves than many plants of V. phormiiphila. Again, its wetland habitat is supportive of a separate status for V. phormiiphila, although V. leiophylla also has 2n = 80, but the distinction between the two species is especially difficult where their distributions meet.

Norton and de Lange (1998) drew attention to the distinctive features of V. phormiiphila (as Hebe paludosa) as “distinctive diffusely branching habit, brittle branchlets, yellow-green faintly glaucous-tinged leaves, conspicuous decurved and twisted acumen, and the flowers, which have a longer corolla tube and acute corolla lobes which usually project forward”.


Lowland wetlands, edges of lakes and lagoons, especially in the transition zone to Dacrycarpus forest, often with Phormium tenax (Norton & de Lange 1998). Recorded elevations range from 0 to 500 m.

Indigenous (Endemic)

Bayly and Kellow (2006) noted difficulties distinguishing V. phormiiphila in the northern part of its range from V. leiophylla. Norton and de Lange (1998) did not think hybridism occurs between V. phormiiphila and either V. salicifolia or V. leiophylla. Bayly and Kellow (2006) suggested hybridisation might have been involved in its origin.


Flowers: January–March; fruits: March–May.


2n = 80 (see Bayly & Kellow 2006, as Hebe paludosa).


Veronica phormiiphila is classified in V. subg. Pseudoveronica sect. Hebe and the informal group “Apertae” (large-leaved) (Albach & Meudt 2010; Bayly & Kellow 2006).

The Māori names koromiko, kōkōmuka, and variants, applied to V. stricta and V. salicifolia​​​​​​​, might be applied also to similar large-leaved hebes, such as V. phormiiphila.

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.
Bayly, M.J.; Kellow, A.V. 2006: An Illustrated Guide to New Zealand Hebes. Te Papa Press, Wellington. [as Hebe paludosa (Cockayne) D.A.Norton & de Lange; Hebe salicifolia var. paludosa (Cockayne) Cockayne & Allan; Veronica salicifolia var. paludosa Cockayne]
Cockayne, L. 1916: Notes on New Zealand floristic botany, including descriptions of new species, etc. (No. 1). Transactions of the New Zealand Institute 48: 193–202.
Cockayne, L.; Allan, H.H. 1926: The present taxonomic status of the New Zealand species of Hebe. Transactions of the New Zealand Institute 57: 11–47.
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 paludosa (Cockayne) D.A.Norton & de Lange] [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.
Norton, D.A.; de Lange, P. J. 1998: Hebe paludosa (Scrophulariaceae) — a new combination for an endemic wetland Hebe from Westland, South Island, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Botany 36(4): 531–538.