Hebe cupressoides (Cypress hebe)
Species: H. cupressoides
Binomial name: Hebe cupressoides
Synonym: Leonohebe cupressoides
Common name: Cypress hebe
Hebe cupressoides ) is a large symmetrical, rounded, aromatic, whipcord evergreen shrub up to 3 x 3 m. The trunk can be up to 60 mm diameter and clad in dark grey black rough bark which flakes in small tabular shards. Branches are erect to spreading.
While many rare species can be very hard to find, at least this plant has the virtue of being easily distinguishable with its cedar-like fragrant scent, its grayish-green colour and softly rounded canopy shape. Flowers appear November February. Its inflorescence is a 68flowered spike at the branch tips. The flowers are pale lilac, lilac to blue and occasionally cream.
This shrub is found on the eastern side of the South Island's Southern Alps in the South Island. It is mostly found in the Mackenzie Basin and the Shotover River Valley on river-flats and terraces. Its habitat occurs across a range of sites from those that have been recently influenced by disturbance (especially river flooding and slips) to more stable sites such as rock outcrops and bouldery moraine.
Hebe cupressoides has declined to such an extent that only four of its 19 known populations comprise more than 100 mature plants. A Department of Conservation Recovery Plan has been actioned to address this decline. Habitat loss has been a key factor in the historical decline of Hebe cupressoides. Grazing animals, including domestic stock and wild species such as rabbits and hares can seriously damage or kill plants. Small populations are vulnerable to local extinction through disturbance such as river flooding, and fire particularly as this species is extremely flammable wet or dry.
Photographed at Otari Native Botanic Garden and Wilton's Bush Reserve. Wellington.