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Gardening with Hebes Review by Tony Hayter
Hebes and Parahebes Review by Tony Hayter

Hebes Here and There

Review by Tony Hayter
International Register of Hebe Cultivars
Review by Tony Hayter
Review by Bob Edwards
Hebes, A Guide to Species, Hybrids, and Allied Genera Review by Tony Hayter
An Illustrated Guide to New Zealand Hebes Review by Tony Hayter

Gardening with HebesGardening with Hebes

By Chris and Valerie Wheeler, Guild of Master Craftsman Publications, United Kingdom, 2002, ISBN 1 86108 2916, paperback, 149 pages 210 275 mm, $59.95.

Review by Tony Hayter (aj.me.hayter@boltblue.com)
The Hebe Society (UK)
Reproduced with his permission from
The New Zealand Garden Journal (Journal of the Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture), Vol. 5, No. 2, December 2002, p. 20.

Chris and Valerie Wheeler founded Siskin Plants, a nursery specialising in dwarf plants, in the aftermath of the Great Storm of 1987. They hold the National Collection of Dwarf Hebes. The business has recently been sold, but they will continue to hold the national collection, and sell a wide range of dwarf hebes by mail order.

The introduction to this book states that its aim is to give ideas on how to enhance the garden with hebes, and practical advice on growing and maintaining hebes. Hebe is a diverse genus, with a hebe for most situations in the garden. Their popularity has steadily increased over the last 20 to 30 years, which has led to an increased interest in breeding hebe hybrids, and a correspondingly large number of new introductions. Opposite the introduction there is a full-page photo of a single raceme of Hebe 'Nicola's Blush'. This stunning photo is the first of many. In fact, this book is full of excellent photos, beautifully produced and full of practical information useful for anyone who grows hebes.

In Chapter 1, "Origins and Characteristics", Chris and Valerie give an introduction to New Zealand and its plants, of which Hebe is the largest genus. They state that hebes are found also in Australia, although I think they are referring to parahebes. They then examine New Zealand's wide range of habitats, and show that hebes fit into all of these. The suitability of hebes for growing in the northern hemisphere is discussed, and is followed by notes on the breeding of new hebe hybrids. The authors describe the various forms of hebe flowers, hebe growth habits, leaves, stems, winter colour and hardiness. Again these characteristics are shown in colour photos.

In Chapter 2, "Using Hebe in the Border", the authors move into the garden. They start the chapter with two large colour photos, Hebe 'Midsummer Beauty' and Hebe salicifolia, which certainly grab your attention. They then discuss the use of hebes as an evergreen backbone to borders, especially their importance in winter, when all herbaceous plants have died down. The wide range of hebe leaf colour is important, and here the more highly coloured new growth is mentioned. The authors examine hebes in new borders, the wide variation in size and its importance, uses for low-growing hebes, and the use of hebes as a backdrop for other plants, statues or containers. The chapter ends with the authors showing how to combine hebes with other plants, and two suggested planting schemes. Both schemes are illustrated with double page, colour sketches.

Chapter 3 deals with hebes for rock gardens and raised beds. Their evergreen foliage is again used as a green background, and a contrast with herbaceous alpines. After covering the cultivation of hebes in rock gardens and raised beds, they suggest two planting schemes, both illustrated with double page colour sketches. In Chapter 4, Chris and Valerie demonstrate which hebes to use for ground cover, as well as their cultivation.

In Chapter 5, the authors compose a symphony of hebes. They look at the points you should consider when planning a bed consisting of hebes alone. These include contrast of foliage, and the scale and shape of the planting. They end the chapter with examples, using tables of hebes, and in double page, annotated, colour drawings.

Chapter 6 is about hebes in containers. Container gardening is increasingly popular, with many variations possible in size and positioning. The smaller hebes are best for containers, the larger ones quickly outgrowing the space available. The authors consider the types of container available, the choice of hebes for foliage and flowering, the use of frost tender hebes, hebes in combination with other plants, and lastly hebes in sinks. These themes are demonstrated with three double-page, annotated, colour drawings.

In Chapter 7, Chris and Valerie cover all aspects of the cultivation of hebe hedges, using large, medium and small hebes. The hedges are nicely illustrated with colour photographs. Indeed, there is a full-page illustration of one of the best hebes, Hebe rigidula, which grows very well in my garden.

Chapter 8 covers hebes as standards, a topic on which there have been several articles in Hebe News. The techniques for creating standards are illustrated for Hebe rigidula, although larger and smaller hebes can also be grown as standards. The authors also describe topiary for hebes, i.e., growing them to a specific shape, such as a sphere, cone, or as a ball on a stem.

Chapter 9 is about the cultivation of hebes, and is one of the most useful chapters in the whole book. The authors deal with topics such as the best position to plant hebes, how to plant them in the border and in a container, watering and feeding, and pruning and propagation. The chapter ends with a troubleshooting section, the effects of drought, wind scorch, frost damage, downy mildew and aphids. Again the excellent colour photos show you which problem you have, and the text tells you how to deal with it.

The last and largest chapter describes one hundred hebes, many with an accompanying photo. The authors note particularly successful plant combinations with each hebe.

Both Douglas Chalk and Graham Hutchins have written books on hebes. These have a strong botanical flavour, and are more useful to the hebe aficionado. The International Register of Hebe Cultivars by Lawrie Metcalf is a very useful exploration of old hebe cultivars, but is not a guide to cultivating hebes. If you wish to learn more about growing hebes, and how to use them in your garden, this is the book for you.

A version of this review appeared in Hebe News 17(4): 23-25.

Available from Touchwood Books

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Hebes and ParahebesHebes and Parahebes

By Douglas Chalk, 152 pages.

Reviewed by Tony Hayter (aj.me.hayter@boltblue.com)
The Hebe Society (UK)
eproduced with his permission from
Hebe News, Volume 16, No. 2, pages 25-28.

Douglas Chalk was a founder member and Vice President of the Hebe Society . Hebes and Parahebes was the first book on hebes. It was published in 1988 in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and is now out of print.

Douglas's book appropriately enough has a foreword by Lawrie Metcalf. Chapter 1 has a brief introduction to New Zealand and a comparison of growing conditions in New Zealand, North America and the British Isles. In chapter 2 Douglas describes the change of name from Veronica to Hebe, the differences between Veronica and Hebe, and the splitting of the sub-shrubby genus of Parahebe from both Veronica and Hebe. Chapter 3 explores the features of hebes: the variety of size, shape and colour of leaves, leaf bud sinus, colour of stems, times of flowering, colour of flowers, types of inflorescences. Lastly there is a table of 46 hebes and 2 parahebes with their sizes, flower colour, leaf colour and times of flowering. The growing of hebes and parahebes is described in chapter 4. Here Douglas considers soil types, frost, wind, preparation for planting, shelter belts, pruning, and lastly pests and diseases. In chapter 5 he discusses the propagation of hebes and parahebes from seed, cuttings and layering. Chapter 6 is devoted to hebe nomenclature. Douglas in chapter 7 advises on which hebes and parahebes to grow in a variety of situations: troughs, ground cover, borders, coastal areas, and hedges.

In chapter 8, the largest chapter, Douglas describes nearly 300 species, varieties and cultivars of Hebe. The description is usually a paragraph or two. Sixty hebes are illustrated in colour, thirty as line drawings. Chapter 9 discusses the Chionohebe species and chapter 10 the Parahebe species and cultivars.

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Hebes Here and ThereHebes Here and There

By Graham Hutchins, 320 pages.

Reviewed by Tony Hayter (aj.me.hayter@boltblue.com)
The Hebe Society (UK)
eproduced with his permission from
Hebe News, Volume 16, No. 2, pages 25-28.

Graham Hutchins, founder member and Chairman of the Hebe Society, wrote Hebes Here and There, illustrated by Patricia K R Davies. It was privately published by them in 1997, and is available from the authors.

Hebes Here and There starts with maps of New Zealand, a preface by our President, Chris Brickell, and an introduction detailing the history of Graham's involvement with hebes. In chapter 1 he introduces the geography of New Zealand, and gives an introduction to naming hebes. All aspects of the cultivation of hebes, hebes recommended for special situations and purposes, and time of flowering are described in chapter 2. Graham in chapter 3 shows us how to study and describe hebes, with the aid of many useful drawings. Chapter 4 describes the identification of hebes: firstly by assigning them to one of six groups, based on presence or absence of sinus, and size of leaf, secondly by matching to one of 217 drawings of leaf outlines. In chapter 5 Graham describes 170 Hebe species, subspecies and varieties. A detailed description of each hebe is given. In chapter 6 he describes 115 Hebe cultivars.

Available from Touchwood Books

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Hebe RegisterInternational Register of Hebe Cultivars

L. J. Metcalf, 232 pages, ISBN 0-9597756-4-1.

Reviewed by Tony Hayter (aj.me.hayter@boltblue.com)
The Hebe Society (UK)
eproduced with his permission from
Hebe News, Volume 16, No. 2, pages 25-28.

Lawrie Metcalf is the International Registrar for Hebe. In the introduction he describes the frustrations of trying to obtain information for hebe cultivars that have been raised outside New Zealand, where information was either limited, or in some cases lost altogether. There is a brief account of the current state of research on the limits of the genus. This is followed by a brief history of the introduction of hebes outside New Zealand, and the naming of the genus. Also mentioned is that the Hebe genus can be divided into 10 informal groups (although hybrids between hebes in differing groups can cause problems in assigning them to a group).

In the first section Phil Garnock-Jones describes the origins and evolution of Hebe. Hebe with Parahebe, Chionohebe and Heliohebe* forms the Hebe complex, which occupies many regions and habitats in New Zealand. By studying a range of characteristics of the complex, including the DNA sequences, Garnock-Jones and fellow researchers are able to infer their evolutionary history. (*The paniculate group of hebes, eg Hebe hulkeana.)

Hebe and allies probably evolved from the northern hemisphere Veronica complex. The nearest relative is the Australian genus Derwentia, which includes digger's speedwell. A significant evolutionary advance was the closed terminal bud of Hebe, which protected the growing tip from frost and allowed a shrubby habit.

Hebe and its relatives seem to have arrived in New Zealand about 10-15 million years ago, the parent having crossed the Tasman Sea. The Heliohebe hulkeana group split early from Hebe. Chionohebe and Parahebe are closely related and there may be some reclassification necessary. Research is continuing, and a fully illustrated field guide to Hebe is to be published in 2002.

The second section, by Peter Heenan, relates the history of Hebe as a garden plant. The first explorers of New Zealand sent plants to the leading botanic gardens of Europe. After 1840 the explorations of resident botanists (eg Colenso and Kirk) fostered the founding of domestic botanic gardens and a horticulture trade.

Many hebes were sent as seed to Britain in the 19th century. In particular Isaac Anderson-Henry of Edinburgh did much to popularise Hebe. By the end of the century there were about 40 species in cultivation. At the beginning of the 20th century Dorrien-Smith sent Wardian cases of New Zealand plants to Britain, including new introductions such as Hebe buchananii and Hebe bollonsii. This process has continued with botanists including Graham Hutchins collecting and introducing hebes.

The first named hebe hybrid was Hebe 'Rosea', raised in 1845 from open pollinated seed of Hebe speciosa; indeed this species was a parent in many 19th century hybrids. Anderson-Henry used it in the first artificial hybrid, crossing with Hebe stricta to give Hebe 'Andersonii'. Hebe breeding programs have continued on and off in Britain and New Zealand, with Jack Hobbs of Auckland raising the Wiri series in the 1980s.

The history of hebe cultivars has been plagued by poorly described, poorly documented plants, with no herbarium specimens. Indeed even botanic gardens had difficulty with their species; it turned out that plants of Hebe cupressoides were the hybrid Hebe 'Azurea'. Since 1840 there has been a steady increase in the number of hebe cultivars introduced and named.

The variety of habit, leaf size, leaf shape, flowering time and habitat requirements of hebes enables them to be grown in a variety of garden situations. Training Hebe speciosa as a standard was accomplished as early as 1847. Their use as pot plants was noted in 1887, and in 1990 over 2.5 million hebes were grown as pot plants in Denmark. Much attention has been paid to the frost tenderness of hebes, the early literature discussing it in 1880, with research continuing to the present.

In the third section of the register Lawrie lists over 1000 hebe cultivars. What makes this particularly useful is inclusion of synonyms. Thus we are told that Hebe 'Autumn Beauty' of New Zealand nurseries is the same as Britain's Hebe 'Autumn Glory', and that Hebe 'Knightshayes' is a synonym for Hebe 'Caledonia'. The fourth section is a similar listing for Heliohebe. Following this are 16 good colour plants of hebes.

The fifth and largest section is the 'Biographical List of Hebe Cultivars'. This contains descriptions, and the source for the descriptions, of nearly 700 hebes. For example Lawrie gives us five references for Hebe 'Andersonii', and follows with a brief description, and historical notes. The length of the entries vary, the largest occupying a page, smaller ones just one line; and depends on the amount of information available to him. The sixth section lists the biographical data for the heliohebes.

This well produced book will appeal to all members having an interest in the origins of their hebes. The books by Douglas Chalk and Graham Hutchins are largely horticultural, with a leavening of botany, so the International Register of Hebe Cultivars will complement them well.

Available from:

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Hebe checklistInternational Register of Hebe Cultivars

L. J. Metcalf, 232 pages, ISBN 0-9597756-4-1.

Review by Bob Edwards
Commercial Horticulture
Reproduced with his permission from
Commercial Horticulture, July 2001, pages 50-51.

The first Hebe cultivar register, a 15-year of labour of love and painstaking research by native plantsman Lawrie Metcalf, is an extremely valuable reference to over 800 cultivars produced from the 100 or so species, mostly endemic to New Zealand.

It is not complete, says Lawrie, noting the first species to be described was Hebe magellanica (South America) and that many hybrids and selections may have existed in France but have yet to be unearthed and he suspects a revision may be necessary in the future.

He welcomes additional information and can be contacted at Greenwood, 179 Westdale Rd, RD1, Richmond, Nelson.

The 232-page book also contains two general chapters: Hebe: Origins and Evolution by Professor Phil Garnock-Jones (Victoria University, Wellington), a useful modern background to the genus; and A History of Hebe as a Garden Plant by Dr Peter Heenan (Landcare Research, Lincoln), a thoroughly researched guide to 150 years of Hebe gardening and trade history.

Both have excellent references that will be invaluable for students undertaking further work.

Extensive indexes and cultivar descriptions

Over 135 pages of cultivars and hybrids are listed together with their origins, descriptions (where available), references to journals, catalogues, indexes, papers where these have been found, synonyms, incorrect and invalid names, and in many cases additional notes and interpretation by the genera's International Registrar, the author.

A separate alphabetical listing with cross references will assist readers through the maze and the 16 colour photos will make identification of some modern releases easier.

The final chapter, a 4-page Heliohebe list, is a bonus.

To those who tinker with names we suggest you read the entry for Hebe Eveline (introduced c.1893) and the headache this has caused. It has also been listed as Evelyn, Gauntlettii, Evalina, Gauntlette, speciosa Pink, Pink Payne, Rainers Beauty, Pink Lord, speciosa Gauntlettii, Pink and Pink Pearl. Emerald Gem and others have suffered a similar fate.

To those who select, breed and release new Hebe cultivars: have them described properly, registered and written up to make the Registrar's job easier and ensure correct, detailed information is published quickly.

Growers and retailers will find this Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture publication a valuable reference. It is the start to getting the correct cultivar names in circulation once and for all and a major effort is needed as the muddle existing in the trade and in gardens is considerable.

Spelling also needs to be tidied. Hebe Margret is often written incorrectly as Margaret. The Registrar has not accepted the name Mary Antoinette for the blue hebe released by Annton Nurseries (Cambridge) as it's too similar to Marie Antoinette, a variety written up in The Floral World and Garden Guide in 1874, 112 years earlier.

The number of lost cultivars and hybrids is of major concern.

As there is no repository for Hebe cultivars and hybrids and as many of the hybrids now in circulation here and overseas are likely to go out of production due to rapidly changing trends and fashions, a pictorial reference is now urgent.

The International Register of Hebe Cultivars is an impressive work, a must for everyone interested in the genus and an excellent companion to Douglas Chalk's Hebes and Parahebes, Lawrie's bibles and Flora of New Zealand volumes that contain additional information. Highly recommended.

Available from:

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Hebes, A Guide to Species, Hybrids, and Allied GeneraHebes, A Guide to Species, Hybrids, and Allied Genera

By Lawrie Metcalf, published by Timber Press Inc, The Haseltine Building, 133 SW Second Avenue, Suite 450, Portland, Oregon, USA, 2006, 260 pages, ISBN-13: 978-0- 88192-773-3, ISBN-10: 0-88192-773-2.

Review by Tony Hayter (aj.me.hayter@boltblue.com)
The Hebe Society (UK)
Reproduced with his permission from The New Zealand Garden Journal (Journal of the Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture), Vol. 9, No. 2, December 2006, p. 26-27.

I bought my first hebe in 1980, and my interest soon spread to other New Zealand plants. So I soon bought a second hand copy of Lawrie Metcalf's The Cultivation of New Zealand Trees and Shrubs (republished in 2000 as New Zealand Trees and Shrubs). This has been a constant companion, with its mixture of horticulture and botany, presented in a clear, thoughtful and comprehensive way. There was the pleasure of anticipation when I heard that Lawrie was proposing to write a book on growing hebes, the first by a New Zealander.

The book describes more than 365 species, subspecies, varieties and hybrids of Hebe and related species. It is illustrated with 135 colour photographs and 17 line drawings.

In Chapter 1, Hebes in New Zealand, Lawrie sets the scene. He points out the premier place that hebes have in their native land, both in the gardens and countryside. They even have their own society. Hebe is the largest genus of flowering plants in New Zealand, with more than 100 species - although various parts have been separated into Parahebe, Chionohebe, and controversially into Heliohebe and Leonohebe. The author shows how New Zealand's climate plays its part - subtropical in the far north through to temperate in the far south. It is surrounded by oceans which give a much more even climate than experienced in the UK. In the section 'Where Hebes are Found' Lawrie points out that hebes are found in all environments throughout their native land, from seaside to mountainside. But in very few places will there be a great variety of hebes, as most hebes are local in their distribution. Indeed he states that '.it is amazing how far one may travel in New Zealand without observing a single hebe in the wild'.

Lawrie looks at each habitat in turn describing its characteristic hebes. Thus Hebe elliptica is found growing on the coasts of the South Island. The large river valleys within mountain ranges have Hebe odora and Hebe subalpina. In alpine grasslands the whipcord hebes grow; while Hebe vernicosa occurs in the forests of the Nelson area, and the grey-leaved Hebe pinguifolia is an inhabitant of the dry mountain ranges to the north-east of the South Island.

Next he describes the features of Hebe: the variation in size, the arrangement of leaves, the prominent terminal leaf bud, and the presence or absence of a gap (sinus) at the base of the leaf bud. Some drawings to illustrate these points would have been useful. The related genera of Heliohebe, Heohebe, Parahebe and Chionohebe are described. This is followed by sections on the discovery of hebes, early breeding of hebes, and finally the classification of Hebe into ten informal groups.

Chapter 2 is entitled 'Hebes Around the World'. Here a number of Hebe Society members give their assessment of hebe growing in the UK, North America, Europe and Australia. Tony Hayter looks at hebe growing in the UK, where hardiness, the Hebe Society and the plethora of new hebe cultivars are mentioned. Neil Bell and Tom Sauceda look at hebes in North America. Hebes can only be grown in gardens in California or the Pacific Northwest, and do particularly well near the coast. Elsewhere it is either too hot in summer or too cold in winter, or both; there hebes are being sold as pot plants. Claudio Cervelli describes hebe production and use in a wide variety of climates in Europe. Melanie Kinsey says that hebes have been grown in Australia for many years, especially in Victoria and New South Wales. They are much used for landscaping and warrant their own section in many nurseries.

Chapter 3 deals with the cultivation of hebes. You would regard growing hebes in their native land as easy, but Lawrie points out the traps for the unwary. Hebes bought as a tight ball, if left to their own devices, become leggy, so they do need regular pruning and deadheading. Hardiness is rarely an issue in New Zealand, as its winters are relatively mild, compared to the UK. They appreciate good drainage and a top-dressing of mulch, and do well in either sun or semi-shade. Hebes grown in containers need good drainage, feeding with a slow-release fertiliser, and a yearly potting on, or root pruning. Those grown in open ground require much less attention, but watering might be necessary in dry periods. Any fertiliser should be applied to the surface then worked into the soil, so that it is available to the plant.

Chapter 4 covers the propagation of hebes. They grow readily from seed, but as hebes so easily crosspollinate the result may not match expectations. Semi-hardwood cuttings are best taken in early autumn, preferably from the sides of the plant. Lawrie then discusses the rooting of whipcord hebes and growing hebes as standards.

Chapter 5 deals with growing hebes in different situations in the garden. He considers how the habitat that a hebe grows in shapes its character, e.g., Hebe odora grows well in wet soils, but has to withstand high moisture loss due to strong winds, and Hebe pinguifolia has waxy glaucous leaves to cope with dry conditions. The author shows which hebes are suitable for hedges, rock gardens, ground cover, dry places, shady places, coastal areas, and damp conditions.

Chapter 6 is about the pests and other problems, and how to deal with them. Fortunately hebes don't have too many problems; the key is to have healthy hebes. Insect pests include aphids, spittlebugs, leaf-rolling caterpillars and the Hebe gallery fly - the last one occurs just in New Zealand. Next come the fungal diseases, downy mildew, fusarium wilt, phytophthora root rot, and septoria leaf spot - Lawrie outlines the methods of controlling these. Lastly he lists the physical problems that can affect hebes; drought, frost damage, poor flowering, wind scorch and rabbits etc. Drought is more of a problem for plants in containers, so vigilance is needed. To prevent frost damage mulching and a protective cloth help. Lastly, poor flowering is a more complex problem with a number of possible causes.

Chapter 7 is the largest and deals with Hebe species and associated cultivars. The species are arranged alphabetically, which makes finding a hebe very easy. However this arrangement does not group related species, which makes comparisons more difficult. The description of each hebe starts with its particular characteristics, and its relationship to other hebes, and may include notes on the various forms available, the plant's history, and its habitat. Each entry concludes with a detailed description and notes on its distribution. One that caught my eye was Hebe 'Swamp', the temporary (or tag) name for a species that grows in the Hikurangi Swamp near Whangarei, in the North Island. It has affinities with Hebe bishopiana and Hebe stricta, with mauve flowers.

Chapter 8 covers Hebe hybrids and cultivars not directly assigned to a species, and each is briefly described. Most of these plants will be known to regular readers of Hebe News, but a number will not, as the book includes cultivars from New Zealand and Australia. For instance Hebe 'Flame' has an intriguing name; it's similar to Hebe 'Carnea'.

Chapter 9 covers the Hebe relatives: Heliohebe (the paniculate hebes, Heliohebe hulkeana, H. lavaudiana, H. raoulii and H. pentasepala, and their hybrids Heliohebe 'Fairfieldii' and H. 'Hagley Park'), Heohebe (crosses between Hebe and Heliohebe), Parahebe and Chionohebe. The book concludes with a glossary and index.

This book is a worthwhile addition to those already published on hebes. The range of topics covered is wide. The text is clear and comprehensive, the photographs good and useful. I will be sure to keep it within easy reach.

We thank Tony Hayter for his permission to reproduce a version of his review originally published in Hebe News, 2006, Vol. 21, No. 3.

Lawrie's book was also reviewed in The Plantsman (published by the RHS), Vol. 3, Part 3, in September 2006.

Available from Touchwood Books

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An Illustrated Guide to New Zealand HebesAn Illustrated Guide to New Zealand Hebes

By Michael Bayly and Alison Kellow, published by Te Papa Press, PO Box 467, Wellington, New Zealand, 2006, 388 pages, 28.5 20.5 cm, ISBN-13: 978-0-909010-12-6, ISBN-10: 0-909010-12-9.

Review by Tony Hayter (aj.me.hayter@boltblue.com)
The Hebe Society (UK)
Reproduced with his permission from
The New Zealand Garden Journal (Journal of the Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture), Vol. 9, No. 2, December 2006, p. 27-29.

The September 2002 issue of Hebe News carried an article by Mike Bayly describing current research into the genus Hebe. This research aimed to deliver a range of scientific papers, an interactive computer-based key for the identification of species, and an illustrated guide.

The guide covers the identification, classification and biology of Hebe and the closely related genus Leonohebe. It describes 88 species of naturally occurring Hebe and five of Leonohebe (L. cheesemanii, L. ciliolata, L. cupressoides, L. tetrasticha and L. tumida), but no horticultural forms. Each plant is illustrated with between six and 13 colour photographs; these show the whole plant, branchlet, leaf bud, leaf, inflorescence, flower and capsule. The authors describe each plant in detail including: habit, branches, leaf bud, leaves, inflorescences, bracts, flowers, pedicels, calyx, stamens, ovaries, capsules and seeds. The distribution and habitat are then given, followed by notes on its relationship with other hebes. Finally the etymology (origin of the name) is described.

The book is in three parts: A - general chapters, B - identification, description and nomenclature of each plant, and C - appendices, glossary, references and an index.

In the Introduction the authors point out that Hebe is New Zealand's largest genus, and is particularly conspicuous in the subalpine and alpine regions. Hebes occupy a wide range of habitats, from the coasts to the mountaintops, and have a wide range of forms, from whipcords with tiny leaves to large-leaved shrubs. Many of the species are similar in appearance, and can be variable in form, which has given hebes a reputation as a difficult group to study. It was thought that hybridisation between species is common, but the authors point out that this has been exaggerated, so that with care, and the use of a hand lens, most plants can be identified.

The last complete survey of Hebe was in the Flora of New Zealand, Volume 1, 1961. Research since that time has described further species, revealed possible new taxa, and raised questions about the limits of known species. The research project was planned to try to resolve these questions, to undertake a biosystematic revision of the genus, and to look at the evolution of the species. However in 1993 the paniculate group (Hebe hulkeana, H. lavaudiana, and H. raoulii) was given generic status as Heliohebe and is not included in the book, which is a shortcoming. Eleven species have been described since publication of the Flora, eight species are reinstated (they were not regarded as such in the Flora), and five hebes previously classified as species have been discarded.

The second chapter covers the classification and evolution of Hebe and Leonohebe. Previously Hebe had been placed in Scrophulariaceae, the antirrhinum family; but recently the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group regard it as a member of the Plantaginaceae, the plantain family. The history of the discovery, description and classification of Hebe species is given. From 1984 various authors have classified Hebe based on evolution, at first using the form of each species and latterly DNA derived data. This supports the idea that Hebe is derived from Veronica; relationships within Parahebe and Chionohebe are complex, with most hebes descending from a common ancestor, although Hebe macrantha is less closely related. The supposedly close relationship of Hebe odora and the whipcord hebes is not supported, and the whipcords fall into several groupings. The classification and naming of species included in Veronica and Hebe is in a state of flux, so further research is needed to resolve these problems. The classification of species within Hebe is based on the Flora, although a number of changes have been made based on recent but incomplete research.

The third chapter describes distribution, habitats and biogeographic history of Hebe, which occurs throughout New Zealand and its outlying islands. It is found in most habitats (coastal, near-coast forests, lowland wetland, riverside, cloud forest, beech forest, lakeshores, subalpine scrub, grassland and rocky areas in subalpine to alpine regions), although it is thinly distributed in forests. The number of species in each area varies widely throughout New Zealand, with the maximum number of species (25) in mountains at the borders of Nelson, Marlborough and Canterbury. Here there is a wide range of habitats. Research shows that Hebe arrived in New Zealand 1.5-5.5 million years ago, probably in an alpine region; it formed new species in this region and this was followed by a spread to lowland areas. Hebes are able to colonise over long distances, and one species (Hebe elliptica) extends to the Falkland Islands. The limited changes in DNA confirm the recent origin of Hebe, but more research is needed to pin down exact relationships within Hebe.

Phil Garnock-Jones has contributed the fourth chapter, which examines the structure of Hebe species. Hebes form an extensive system of fibrous roots, which might explain why they rapidly exhaust the compost in pots. Many hebes have a bushy habit, due to branching of the stems. These often have noticeable nodes, i.e., where leaves have been attached. Leaves have a decussate configuration; where opposite pairs of leaves are at right angles to their neighbours. A large leaf bud is a common feature. The leaf sinus, the gap between the bases of the terminal pair of leaves, can be useful in identification, although it can be present or absent within one species, e.g., Hebe pinguifolia. Flowers are usually found as a simple lateral raceme. Other features he discusses are: hairs, calices, corollas, androecium, pollen, gynoecium, seeds, seedlings, juvenile forms, and flower development.

Ken Markham has written the fifth chapter on flavonoids (leaf pigments) in Hebe. Over 80 flavonoids have been found in Hebe, and each species has its own (occasionally well-defined) flavonoid profile, giving it the characteristics of a fingerprint. The profile varies within each species, but this is much less than that displayed between species. This analytical method has been used to explore the relationships between species, and can be used to define hybrids and their parentage.

Chromosomes are the topic covered by the authors in the sixth chapter, where there is a comprehensive compendium of chromosome numbers for Hebe. The variation of these throughout the genus is examined, and work to unravel the ancestry of hebes is mentioned.

In the seventh chapter Phil Garnock-Jones considers the reproductive biology of Hebe. Some aspects have been studied, e.g., maintenance of gynodioecy (some flowers having male and female reproductive organs, while others have just female organs), breeding systems for Hebe stricta, H. subalpina and H. strictissima, and seed shape. However we have little knowledge of the breeding systems of most species, their pollinators and development of flowers. Hebe flowers are structurally similar, although there is a great diversity in size and detail, but all lack the nectar guides of Parahebe. The dominant flower colour is white, although some species have strong colours, e.g., magenta in Hebe speciosa. Most hebes flower in spring or early summer, with individual flowers lasting from 2-5 weeks in Hebe strictissima and 2-3 days in H. pinguifolia. Pollinators are a wide range of insects, although H. speciosa is visited by birds.

In the eighth chapter Peter de Lange describes the conservation status of Hebe. Peter and co-workers have developed a system to classify the conservation status of New Zealand native plants; this distinguishes between plants that are under threat from human activities, and those that are local or uncommon. Hebe is the largest genus in New Zealand, but few are greatly at risk. 'Acutely Threatened' is the highest risk category and this contains nine species of Hebe and one of Leonohebe. Plants in this category are considered management priorities. This category is further divided into three, with the highest risk being 'Nationally Critical', in which are included Hebe breviracemosa and H. societatis. The former is an island endemic and the latter has apparently very local distribution in penalpine (between alpine and subalpine) grassland. Peter then outlines the risks facing hebes, many of which are of very limited distribution.

The final chapter in Part A is on cultivation. There is a summary of cultivation requirements, a list of books on hebes, a mention of the Hebe Society and a photograph of hebes for sale at a New Zealand garden centre.

Part B, the largest section of the book, starts with a chapter on Material and Methods. Plants were studied in the field, and as herbarium specimens and cultivated plants (of known origin). The authors have arranged the species into groups similar to those in the Flora, although with significant differences. Within each group similar species are placed together. Next there is a list of the characteristics. These are used to describe each species and are: habit and form, branches, leaves, juvenile leaves, inflorescences, flowers, pedicels, corolla, stamens, nectarial disc, ovary and style, capsules and seeds.

Taxonomic Treatment gives a synopsis of the eleven groups (nine for Hebe, two for Leonohebe) used for identification. Each group is colour coded, and the distinguishing features listed. In describing these groups I have given some of the more well known examples in each.

The first group described are the 'flagriformes' (whipcords). There is a key to the hebes in this group, and then each plant is portrayed with a page of text and a page of illustrations. There are nine species including Hebe armstrongii, H. hectorii and H. ochracea.

The second group is the 'Connatae' (pairs of leaves are connate, joined at base). This group has seven species including Hebe epacridea and H. haastii.

The third group is the 'Subcarnosae' (somewhat fleshy), which has dull, grey-green, waxy, often fleshy leaves and usually no sinus. This group has seven species including Hebe buchananii, H. gibbsii and H. pimeleoides.

The fourth group is the 'Occlusae' (closed, i.e., no sinus), which has glossy or dull, but not usually glaucous, leaves (except in Hebe albicans, H. glaucophylla and H. topiaria). There are 31 species, and these include Hebe albicans, H. macrocarpa and H. stricta. Here Hebe recurva has been included with H. albicans, as recent research has shown that the latter is very variable and no clear grounds could be found to separate them.

The fifth group is the 'Buxifoliatae' (box-leaved, a former name for Hebe odora). The leaf sinus is shield shaped, each flower is directly attached, i.e., no flower stalk). There are four species, and these include Hebe odora and H. pauciramosa.

The sixth group is the 'Small-leaved Apertae' (conspicuous leaf sinus). The sinus is narrow; the leaves are less than 4 cm long. There are 20 species and these include Hebe diosmifolia, H. elliptica and H. venustula.

The seventh group is the 'Large-leaved Apertae' (conspicuous leaf sinus). The sinus is narrow; the leaves are greater than 4 cm long. There are eight species and these include Hebe salicifolia and H. speciosa.

The eighth group is the 'Grandiflorae' (large flowers). The leaves have noticeable teeth. There is one species, Hebe macrantha.

The ninth group is the 'Pauciflorae' (few flowers). This is a low-growing subshrub with leaves narrowing to a conspicuous leaf stalk (petiole). There is one species, Hebe pauciflora.

The tenth group is Leonohebe section Leonohebe (semi-whipcords). The plants are low-growing subshrubs, with leaves overlapping the stems. There are four species and these include Leonohebe cheesemanii and L. tetrasticha. These were formerly included in Hebe.

A chapter on nomenclature follows. It considers the naming at all levels, from the genera Hebe and Leonohebe, through species to possible wild hybrids to horticultural forms. Finally there is a list of common and Maori names.

Part C, Indices, has an appendix which lists informal hebe names used by Audrey Eagle in her books, and by A. P. Druce in two checklists. The second and third appendices describe the variation in some characteristics of Hebe hectorii and H. lycopodioides. The fourth appendix illustrates the considerable variation in the size and shape of the leaf outlines of 40 Hebe species. The fifth appendix lists the sources of the plant specimens used in the photographs of hebes and leonohebes. The book ends with a list of references, a glossary and an index.

This is an excellent book. The authors have succeeded in presenting a huge quantity of data which shows the current understanding of Hebe and Leonohebe. The language used is of necessity technical, but the glossary helps the attempts of an amateur botanist like me to understand it. The quality of the text, layout and photographs throughout is very high.

A version of this review is also published in Hebe News, 2006, Vol. 21, No. 4.

Available from Touchwood Books

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