Orthoceras novae-zeelandiae


Orthoceras: straight horn
novae-zeelandiae: of New Zealand

Common Name(s)

Horned orchid

Current Conservation Status

2012 - Not Threatened

Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2012 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2009 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, Paul D. Champion, Shannel P. Courtney, Peter B. Heenan, John W. Barkla, Ewen K. Cameron, David A. Norton and Rodney A. Hitchmough. File size: 792KB

Previous Conservation Status

2009 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened


Orthoceras novae-zeelandiae (A.Rich.) M.A.Clem., D.Jones et Molloy



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

NVS Species Code


The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.

Structural Class



Diuris novae-zeelandiae A.Rich., Orthoceras caput-serpentis Colenso, Orthoceras rubrum Colenso, Orthoceras solandri Lindl., Orthoceras strictum f. viride Hatch


Endemic. North and South Islands. In the South Island mainly westerly and recorded as far south as Hokitika


Coastal to lower montane (up to 800 m a.s.l.). Usually in very sunny sites on open, free draining soils or clay banks with little associated taller vegetation. Often found in urban areas on mostly bare roadside cuttings.


Terrestrial, usually solitary, glabrous, perennial tuberous herb. Plant at flowering up to 900 mm tall. Tuber up to 50 x 10 mm ovoid, ovoid-ellipsoid. Stem fleshy dark green, red-green, to brown-green, stiffly erect, rather wiry, axis of raceme usually flexuous. Leaves fleshy, suberect to spreading, 10-20 x 3-6 mm, dark green, dark red-green to brown-green, basal third closely sheathing, linear-lanceolate to linear, channelled, apex acute. Inflorescence racemose up to 200 mm long and 2-12-flowered; flowers more or less equidistant subtended by closely sheathing leaf-like bracts. Perianth colour variable, mostly green or red-green, sometimes greenish-yellow. Dorsal sepal uppermost, 10-15 x 9-14 mm, very broad, and arched over column, distinctly cucullate and deeply concave, subacute; lateral sepals 20-50 mm long, 0.5 mm diameter, narrow-linear, semi-terete, channelled, erect to divergent. Petals very short, narrow-oblong, flat, apex mostly notched, occasionally entire, more or less hidden under dorsal sepal. Labellum spreading, deflexed, firmly fleshy to almost coriaceous, green, red-green, yellow or black, trilobed, margins smooth, lateral lobes broad, oblique; mid-lobe larger, ovate; median callus yellow, restricted to near base, shortly conical with a thickened inturned, rounded apex, base of mid-lobe usually bearing two small calli. Column short, column-wings present as two lateral, linear processes, more or less papillose. almost as long as anther. Anther dorsal, taller than stigma, pollinia ill-defined, pollen granular. Stigma disc-shaped; rostellum prominent, acute.

Similar Taxa



July - March

Flower Colours

Green,Red / Pink


November - May

Propagation Technique

Easily grown in a sunny, free draining soil. Excellent in pots. Should not be removed from the wild.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 42, 44

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Not commercially available.

Taxonomic notes

The distinction between O. novae-zeelandiae and O. strictum R.Br. seems very slight and dubious. Orthoceras strictum is said to differ by its longer floral bract and more narrowly pointed labellum. Similar plants have been found in New Zealand, and there is often a gradation between broad and more narrowly pointed labellum apices present within populations.


Description adapted from Moore and Edgar (1970).

References and further reading

Moore, L.B.; Edgar, E. 1970: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. II. Government Printer, Wellington.

This page last updated on 3 Jan 2014