Manual of the New Zealand Flora/Hypericineæ

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Herbs or shrubs, rarely trees. Leaves opposite or occasionally whorled, generally furnished with pellucid glands or dark glandular dots, simple, entire or with glandular teeth; stipules wanting. Flowers regular, hermaphrodite, solitary or in cymes, terminal or rarely axillary. Sepals 5, rarely 4, imbricate. Petals the same number, hypogynous, imbricate and usually contorted. Stamens numerous, rarely few, hypogynous, usually united into 3 or 5 bundles. Ovary either 1-celled with 3–5 parietal placentas, or 3–5-celled from the union of the placentas in the axis; styles 3–5; ovules few or many, anatropous. Fruit capsular, rarely succulent. Seeds without albumen; embryo straight or curved radicle next the hilum.

A rather small but widely dispersed order, comprising 8 or 9 genera and about 220 species. Most of the species secrete an abundant resinous juice. The single New Zealand genus is widely spread in both temperate and tropical regions.


Herbs or shrubs. Leaves opposite or rarely whorled, thin, usually sessile, entire or rarely minutely toothed. Flowers generally yellow, solitary or cymose, terminal or axillary. Sepals 5. Petals 5, smooth within. Ovary either 1-celled with 3–5 parietal placentas, or 3–5-celled through the placentas meeting in the axis; styles distinct or united at the base; ovules usually numerous. Capsule septicidal or dehiscing at the placentas. Seeds not winged.

A rather large genus comprising over 160 species, widely dispersed, but particularly abundant in south Europe, western Asia, and North America.

Erect or nearly so. Leaves subcordate at the base, with revolute margins 1. H. gramineum.
Procumbent. Leaves oblong or obovate, margins flat 2. H. japonicum.

1. H. gramineum, Forst. Prodr. n. 281.—A perfectly glabrous strict and wiry perennial 4–12 in. high or more. Stems branched from the base, erect or ascending, 4-angled, sparingly leafy. Leaves ⅓–¾ in. long, rarely more, oblong or oblong-lanceolate, cordate at the base and stem-clasping, obtuse, quite entire, marked with numerous pellucid dots; margins more or less revolute. Flowers ⅓–½ in. diam., sometimes solitary in small specimens, but usually in terminal trichotomous cymes, with a pair of bracts at the base of each fork; pedicels strict, erect. Sepals oblong-lanceolate, acute or obtuse. Petals longer than the sepals, golden-yellow. Capsule ovoid, acute, 1-celled, 3-valved, usually longer than the sepals.—Hook. f. Fl. Nov. Zel. i. 36; Handb. N.Z. Fl. 29; Benth. Fl. Austral. i. 182; Kirk, Students' Fl. 67. Brathys Forsteri, Spach in Ann. Sc. Nat. ser. 2, v. 367; Raoul, Choix de Plantes, 47.

North and South Islands: From Whangaroa North (Petrie!) to the south of Otago, but rare and local to the north of Hawke's Bay. Altitudinal range from sea-level to 2000 ft. Also found in Australia and Tasmania, and in New Caledonia.

2. H. japonicum, Thunb. Fl. Jap. 295, t. 31.—A slender procumbent or diffuse much or sparingly branched plant 2–6 in. high; branches ascending at the tips. Leaves small, 1/61/3 in., broadly oblong or oblong-ovate or obovate-oblong, obtuse, quite entire, often glaucous, marked with pellucid dots, sessile; margins usually flat. Flowers smaller than in H. gramineum, solitary or in few-flowered cymes; pedicels short, slender. Sepals oblong or ovate, obtuse or subacute. Petals slightly exceeding the sepals. Capsule broadly ovoid, small.—Hook. f. Fl. Nov. Zel. i. 37; Handb. N.Z. Fl. 29; Benth. Fl. Austral. i. 182; Kirk, Students' Fl. 67. H. pusillum, Choisy, Prodr. Hyp. 50; A. Cunn. Precur. n. 596.

North and South Islands: Not uncommon in moist places from the North Cape to Otago. Altitudinal range from sea-level to over 3000 ft.

Extends northwards through Australia and the Malay Archipelago to India, China, and Japan. Very closely allied to the preceding, but usually readily distinguished by its procumbent habit, broader flatter obtuse leaves and smaller fewer flowers. (The European H. humifusum, Linn., has become naturalised in many places, and may easily be mistaken for H. japonicum. It is usually larger, with stiffer and more wiry stems and branches, larger and more pointed leaves which have a row of black glandular dots just inside the margin, and larger flowers with more pointed often glandular-toothed sepals.)