Hebes (right) are in the Veronica (formerly Hebe) genus of over 120 shrubs and small trees, common throughout New Zealand. It is New Zealand’s largest flowering plant genus. All hebe species are thought to have evolved from a low-growing northern hemisphere ancestor similar to the common speedwell, Veronica arvensis (left). This is probably related to the lack of lowland open habitats in a land dominated by forest. Newly arrived herbaceous plants such as the hebe’s ancestor would have come under evolutionary pressure to develop into woody, taller growing plants in order to compete.
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Photographs by Phil Garnock-Jones (left); Melanie Lovell-Smith (right)
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