Scientific Name:
Veronica stricta Banks & Sol. ex Benth. in de Candolle, Prodr. 10 459 (1846)
  • Veronica salicifolia var. stricta (Banks & Sol. ex Benth.) Hook.f., Bot. Antarct. Voy. II. (Fl. Nov.-Zel.) Part I, 191 (1853)
  • Hebe salicifolia var. stricta (Banks & Sol. ex Benth.) Cockayne & Allan, Trans. New Zealand Inst. 57: 17 (1926)
  • Hebe stricta (Banks & Sol. ex Benth.) L.B.Moore in Allan, Fl. New Zealand 1, 904 (1961)
Lectotype (designated by Moore, in Allan 1961; designated more precisely by Bayly & Kellow 2004): Auckland, N. Z., Sinclair, Herb. Hookerianum K, four uppermost pieces on sheet only (sheet also includes another Sinclair specimen, of two pieces, from Thames)
The epithet stricta is from Latin strictus, meaning straight or tight. Bayly and Kellow (2006) consider it might apply to the leaves or to the habit.
Vernacular Name(s):
kōkōmuka; kōkoromiko; kōkoromuka; korohiko; korokio; koromiko; koromuka

Spreading to erect, low to tall bushy shrub to 4 m tall. Stems usually erect, sometimes decumbent to ascending, eglandular-puberulent to pubescent or glabrous; hairs bifarious to uniform. Leaf bud distinct, its leaves appressed at margins until fully grown; sinus absent. Leaves opposite-decussate, erecto-patent to recurved; lamina thin to sub-coriaceous, rarely coriaceous, linear, lanceolate, oblanceolate, narrowly to broadly elliptic, ovate, obovate, or oblong, 19–127 mm long, 5.5–45.0 mm wide, dull to slightly glossy pale to dark or yellowish-green above, dull pale green beneath; midrib evident, secondary veins usually evident, sometimes faint; surfaces usually with very short eglandular hairs near midrib above and beneath, rarely glabrous or covered with mixed glandular and eglandular hairs when young; margin ciliolate, sometimes glabrous, rarely pubescent, usually entire, rarely minutely and distantly toothed; apex acute to acuminate, sometimes obtuse; base cuneate; petiole indistinct, broadly winged, 2–7 mm long. Inflorescence a lateral raceme, 26–215 mm long; flowers crowded, 35–300, female or bisexual on separate plants, ⚥ ≈ ♀; bracts alternate to loosely whorled, the lowest sometimes sub-opposite, linear, lanceolate, oblong, oblanceolate, deltoid, or ovate, ≤ pedicels; pedicels erecto-patent to spreading, often recurved at fruiting, 0.5–4.3 mm long, puberulent to pubescent all around. Calyx lobes 4 or small 5th posterior lobe rarely present, usually narrowly acute to acuminate, sometimes obtuse to rounded, 1.5–2.8 mm long, sub-equal, mixed glandular- and eglandular-ciliolate, usually pubescent on outer faces but glabrous in southern plants. Corolla 3–6 mm diameter; tube white, 1.5–5.0 mm long, > calyx or rarely < calyx, eglandular-hairy inside and sometimes outside; lobes 4, white or pale purplish or bluish, sub-erect to erecto-patent, sub-equal, elliptic to ovate or obovate to oblanceolate, 1.5–3.5 mm long, usually rounded, sometimes sub-acute to obtuse; nectar guides absent. Stamen filaments white, 3.2–6.5 mm long; anthers usually mauve to purple, sometimes white to buff. Style glabrous or eglandular-hairy, 6–10 or rarely 2.3–6.0 mm long. Capsules latiseptate, sub-acute to obtuse, glabrous or eglandular-hairy, 1.3–4.0 mm long, 2.0–3.3 mm at widest point. Seeds discoid to ellipsoid, flattened, smooth, straw-yellow to pale brown, 0.9–1.5 mm long.

1Leaves narrowly lanceolate to linear (Mt Taranaki, Pouakai Range, lowland to sub-alpine)var. egmontiana
Leaves lanceolate to broadly obovate, only rarely narrowly lanceolate to linear (throughout range of species, but rare at base of Mt Taranaki)2
2Plants compact, <1 m tall; leaves sub-coriaceous to coriaceous (Raukūmara Range to Kaimanawa Mountains and Kaweka Range, sub-alpine)var. lata
Plants often tall and openly branching shrubs, mostly >1 m tall except on exposed coastal sites, leaves thin to sub-coriaceous (throughout range of the species)var. stricta

Veronica stricta is a widespread and variable species. Its characteristic features, which are, however, not constant everywhere, are: tall shrubby habit; stems usually uniformly puberulent; sinus absent; leaves quite large and usually thin, apex often acuminate; flowers small and crowded in long, slender, cylindrical inflorescences; calyx lobes narrowly triangular or narrowly lanceolate, usually acute to acuminate, often pubescent on outer face; corolla tube longer than calyx, corolla lobes short, narrow, and sub-erect to erecto-patent; and capsules small and crowded, often on recurved pedicels.

Varieties and segregate species have been recognised based principally on leaf shape and calyx indumentum, but there is uncorrelated variation also in other characters, such as stem pubescence, calyx lobe length, corolla tube and lobe length and shape, inflorescence length and flower number, and capsule size and shape.

Plants with narrow leaves may be difficult to distinguish from V. angustissima, for which this is the only visible character. Plants with leaves in the range that characterises V. angustissima may occasionally be found in all of the varieties of V. stricta, and the recognition of V. angustissima at species rank depends on its different flavonoid profile (Bayly & Kellow 2006; Mitchell et al. 2007). The V. stricta plants that most often have such narrow leaves are from Mt Taranaki and are classified as var. egmontiana, which is a tetraploid race there (see below).

According to Webb and Simpson (2001), seed size ranges from 0.7–1.0 mm long (var. stricta as circumscribed here) to 0.9–1.5 mm (var. lata).


North Island: throughout.

South Island: Western Nelson (near the coast of western Golden Bay), Sounds Nelson (near the coast), Marlborough (coastal) North Canterbury (near the coast north of Napenape).


Lowland to sub-alpine, usually in open sites: rock outcrops, banks, roadsides, scrub, forest clearings, slips, etc., and may be weedy in urban areas. Recorded elevations range from 0 to 1451 m.

Indigenous (Endemic)
Number of subspecific taxa in New Zealand within Veronica stricta Banks & Sol. ex Benth.
Indigenous (Endemic)3

Flowers: January–May (sometimes extending to September); fruits: January–September.


2n = 40 (commonly), 2n = 80 in V. stricta var. egmontiana and var. lata and some northern plants of var. stricta (see Bayly & Kellow 2006, as Hebe stricta).


Veronica stricta is classified in V. subg. Pseudoveronica sect. Hebe and the informal group “Occlusae” (Albach & Meudt 2010; Bayly & Kellow 2006).

Moore (in Allan 1961) and Bayly and Kellow (2006) recognised more varieties than I do below. V. stricta var. stricta, as circumscribed here, is variable in many characters, but the variation is not correlated, so that broad-leaved plants in coastal habitats (formerly often identified as var. macroura) match their local narrow-leaved populations in other characters (e.g., stems glabrous, midribs more-or less glabrous, leaf margins densely hairy, calyx lobes pubescent on surfaces in East Cape and Hawke’s Bay; stems and midribs puberulent, leaf margins usually ciliolate, calyx lobes glabrous on surfaces in Wellington). In Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay, plants on the coast and inland may have very long inflorescences, up to 215 mm long at times. Such complex patterns of variation indicate that recognising varieties based on one or two characters is not biologically meaningful.

Variation in other characters within V. stricta (e.g., calyx lobe length, corolla form, leaf pubescence) has not been recognised with named varieties. I have recognised three varieties: V. stricta var. stricta, var. egmontiana, and var. lata. The last two have 2n = 80; population genetic research might show them to be independent lineages worthy of species rank, but if so they are still difficult to characterise on morphological characters.

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. 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.
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 Candolle, A.P. 1846: Prodromus Systematis Naturalis Regni Vegetabilis. Vol. 10. Treuttel et Würtz, Paris.
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.
Hooker, J.D. 1852–1853 ("1853"): The Botany of the Antarctic Voyage of H.M. Discovery Ships Erebus and Terror in the Years 1839–1843, under the command of Captain Sir James Clark Ross. II. Flora Novae-Zelandiae. Part I. Flowering plants. Lovell Reeve, London.
Mitchell, K.A.; Kellow, A.V.; Bayly, M.J.; Markham, K.R.; Brownsey, P.J.; Garnock-Jones, P.J. 2007: Composition and distribution of leaf flavonoids in Hebe and Leonohebe – 2. "Apertae", "Occlusae", and "Grandiflorae". New Zealand Journal of Botany 45: 329–392.
Webb, C.J.; Simpson, M.J.A. 2001: Seeds of New Zealand gymnosperms and dicotyledons. Manuka Press, Christchurch.