Koromiko

Veronica macrocarpa var. macrocarpa,
Veronica salicifolia
& Veronica stricta
varieties

(previously known as Hebe macrocarpa, Hebe salicifolia & Hebe stricta respectively)

Koromiko / Hebe

ABOUT:
Māori would chew on the leaf buds to alleviate diarrhoea and dysentery. Dried leaves were even sent to NZ troops in North Africa during WWII for this very reason.
Most sources still recognise these species under the Hebe genus.

IDENTIFY:     
Bright green shrub 2-3m in height. Leaves are in alternating pairs. Flowers are white or pale mauve and in spikes at least as long as the leaves.

1.   Veronica macrocarpa var. macrocarpa      Koromiko. Leaf bud has no small gap (sinus) between leaves at base. Leaves are a smooth M-shaped in cross-section, to 16cm long. Flower spike no longer than leaves, and blunt-ended.
_____Found naturally from North Cape to south Auckland.
2.   Veronica salicifolia                                     South Island Koromiko. Leaf bud has a very small gap (sinus) between leaves at base. Flower spike always longer than the leaves, to 23cm long. Flowers are most commonly white.
_____Common through the South and Stewart Islands, and also found in Chile.
3.   Veronica stricta var stricta                         North Island Koromiko. Leaf bud has no small gap (sinus) between leaves at base. Flower spike always longer than the leaves, often drooping, to 22cm long.
_____Common through the North Island down to Manawatu Gorge.

USE:
A fast-growing shrub for screening or guiding the eye. Commonly used also in revegetation, especially as a nurse plant where young species of larger trees are to be sheltered.

PLANT:
Plant Veronica stricta varieties in a position of full sun, but the other two species will do fine in partial shade. All of these species grow well with wet feet, and keep from getting straggly by a light pruning after flowering. Frost hardy.

ECOLOGICAL IMPORTANCE:     
Seeds are gravity/dispersed, so cannot establish easily in revegetation sites where no other koromiko already exist.
Creates a good leaf mulch for kowhai when grown beneath, but the species Veronica stricta does not tolerate being planted beneath kauri.
Koromiko can be an important stepping-stone habitat for native butterfly species such as the Common Copper, and the Yellow and Red Admirals.

MORE INFO:
GorgeousWithAttitude – Koromiko
Landcare Research: Māori Plant Use – Koromiko
DavisLA – Hebe salicifolia
Oratia Nursery: Titirangi Tatler – Koromiko

 

 

 

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