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A shrub of low, spreading habit; young stems with short, erect hairs, mostly 11⁄2 in. long, 1⁄4 in. wide on cultivated plants but up to 2 in. long and 3⁄8 in. wide on wild ones, narrowly lanceolate, tapered fairly evenly from the broad base to the sharp apex, sessile, rather thin, glabrous, glaucous grey, midrib conspicuous. Racemes unbranched, about 2 in. long, downy; bracts from one-half to almost as long as the flower-stalks. Flowers white, on downy stalks which are about 1⁄8 in. long. Calyx-lobes narrow, fringed with down. Lobes of corolla rounded, tube almost twice the length of the calyx. Capsules glabrous, narrow-ovoid, about twice the length of the calyx-lobes.
Native of N.W. Nelson in the South Island of New Zealand, where it is confined, in its typical state, to one locality on the Aorere River near Bainham. It was described in 1940 but some seventeen years earlier Messrs Hillier had received a plant from Aldenham as ‘a species from Mt Aoira’ and it was as ‘Aoira’ (obviously a mistake for Aorere), or under the specific name “ Veronica aoira” that this hebe spread into gardens (J. Souster, ‘Notes on some Cultivated Veronicas: “Aoira” ‘, Journ. R.H.S., Vol. 88 (Aug. 1963), pp. 357-8).
H. recurva has the aspect of a hybrid but is reported to come more or less true from seed and is accepted as a species in Flora of New Zealand. Mr Souster has suggested that the cultivar name ‘Aoira’ should be maintained for the Aldenham clone, which is probably the one commonest in commerce. H. recurva is one of the most attractive of the low-growing hebes, producing an abundance of snowy white flowers in late July and early August. It is not completely hardy but should come through all but the hardest winters. One plant at Kew is about 5 ft wide.