Veronica armstrongii


Veronica: Named after Saint Veronica, who gave Jesus her veil to wipe his brow as he carried the cross through Jerusalem, perhaps because the common name of this plant is 'speedwell'. The name Veronica is often believed to derive from the Latin vera 'truth' and iconica 'image', but it is actually derived from the Macedonian name Berenice which means 'bearer of victory'.
armstrongii: Named either after Joseph Francis Armstrong (1820-1902) or his son John Beattie Armstrong (1850-1926).

Common Name(s)

Armstrongs Whipcord

Current Conservation Status

2012 - Threatened - Nationally Endangered

Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2012 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2009 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, Paul D. Champion, Shannel P. Courtney, Peter B. Heenan, John W. Barkla, Ewen K. Cameron, David A. Norton and Rodney A. Hitchmough. File size: 792KB

Previous Conservation Status

2009 - Threatened - Nationally Endangered
2004 - Threatened - Nationally Endangered


2012 - RF, RR
2009 - RF


Veronica armstrongii J.B.Armstr.



Brief Description

Spreading low shrub bearing untidy narrow short scaly twigs inhabiting the mountain valleys of western Canterbury. Twigs 1.5-2mm wide. Leaves scale-like, pointed, clasping stem, with a hairy margin (lens needed). Flowers white, in groups of 6-8 at tips of twigs.

Flora Category

Vascular - Native

NVS Species Code


The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.

Structural Class

Dicotyledonous Trees & Shrubs


Leonohebe armstrongii (J.B.Armstr.) Heads, Veronica armstrongii Kirk nom. superf., nom. illeg., Hebe armstrongii (J.B.Armstr.) Cockayne et Allan


Endemic. South Island, Canterbury. Initially recorded from the headwaters of the Rangitata River where it now seems to be extinct. Populations are now known from near Castlehill and in the Nigger Valley. Past records from North West Nelson are based H. ochracea M.B.Ashwin, those from the Clarence, H. hectorii (Hook.f.) Cockayne et Allan, and those from Kurow seem to be the result of accidental inclusion of cultivated specimens with a wild collection of H. annulata (Petrie) Cockayne et Allan.


Apparently confined to bog pine (Halocarpus bidwillii) dominated vegetation growing on river terraces, along tarn margins and on small islands within tarns. Seems to require seasonally high water tables, or at least habitats with moderately high levels of available moisture.


Bushy whipcord hebe up 1 x 1m but usually less. Branches erect or ascending, intermodes (0.7-)0.9-1.6 mm, branchlets including leaves 1.5-2(-3) mm wide, leaf bases hairy, fused together, nodal joint distinct or obscure, usually exposed. Leaves persistent on old branchlets. Leaves fused, appressed (when fresh) spreading when drying. Leaf not thickened near apex, apex obtuse, apiculate or subapiculate, margin ciliate, lower surface yellowish-green, veins not evident. Inflorescences terminal, unbranched, with (2-)8(-10) flowers. Flowers sessile, calyx 1.5-2 mm, 3-lobed, lobes ovate or oblong, obtuse or emarginate. Corolla tube hairy inside, 1-1.7 x 1.3-1.6 mm, equal to or shorter than calyx, lobes ovate or elliptic to broadly oblong, obtuse, suberect to patent, longer than corolla tube,white or mauve, if mauve fading to white with age. Stamen filaments 2-3 mm, anthers yellow or tinged pink 1.4-1.6 mm. Ovary globose, 0.8-1 mm. Capsules obtuse 2.3 x 1.6 mm.

Similar Taxa

Closely allied to Veronica annulata and V. salicornioides, and has been confused with V. ochracea. It occurs in the wild with none of these species. It is most likely to be confused with Veronica annulata from which it differs by the more slender branchlets, slightly mucronate (leaves with a fine, sharp leaf extension), and by the foliage being less tightly overlapping and not so appressed to the stem. Other key differences between Veronica armstrongii and V. annulata are that V.annulata is diploid (2n = 42) and V. armstrongii tetraploid (2n = 84) and both species are ecologically separated (see also V. annulata).


October - January

Flower Colours

Violet / Purple,White


December to November

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from fresh seed and semi hardwood cuttings. Dislikes humidity. It has been observed that cultivated plants, particularly those grown in the North Island rarely flower. It would seem that a cold winter and very hot, dry summer is the stimulis needed to ensure good flowering.


Seriously threatened through loss of habitat. This species seems to require permanently damp or boggy ground, and usually grows amongst bog pine (Halocarpus bidwillii) adjacent tarns or on swampy alluvial flats. Of the two populations known, one has declined despite intensive management probably because the habitat has dried out, and is now persisting only due to regular

Chromosome No.

2n = 84

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Occasionally sold in garden centres. This species was quite commonly cultivated in the 1970s but since then it has been virtually replaced by Veronica (Hebe) ochracea, which is often sold as Hebe armstrongii or H. armstrongii 'James Stirling'. Some garden centres have now correctly relabelled their stock of that cultivar as H. ochracea 'James Stirling'. In the North Island Veronica armstrongii will not flower unless it has experienced a very cold winter.

Notes on etymology

Named after Joseph Francis Armstrong, who collected the type specimen.


Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 1 October 2006. Description based on Bayly & Kellow (2006).

References and further reading

Bayly, M.J.; Kellow, A.V. Hebes, identification, classification and biology. Wellington, Te Papa Press


This page last updated on 22 Feb 2016