Thelymitra aemula


Thelymitra: woman's hat
aemula: rival

Common Name(s)

Gumland Sun 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


Thelymitra aemula Cheeseman



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





Endemic. North Island from Te Paki to about the northern Waikato


Favouring open clay pans, gumland scrub, or sparsely vegetated slopes in site where there once was, or still is kauri (Agathis australis (D.Don) Lindl.) forest. It may also colonise grassy verges along roadsides traversing kauri forest remnants and gumland scrub. This species responds well to periodic burning provided of course the former habitat had few or no fire-adapted weed species.


Terrestrial, tuberous, robust, glabrous, late spring to early summer-green perennial herb, usually solitary or growing in small, diffuse colonies of 3-5 plants. Plants at flower up to 800 mm tall. Stem robust, fleshy, erect 2.5-3.5 mm diameter, dark reddish green. Leaf firmly fleshy to subcoriaceous, rather thick, erect to suberect, 80.0-260.0 x 3.5-10.0 mm, dark green, basally reddish, linear-lanceolate, channelled, prominently ridged, undersides smooth. Inflorescence a 3-10(-22)-flowered raceme. Bracts 2(-3), prominent, rather robust, short, sheathing, with divergent tips, dark reddish green. Ovary prominent, robust. Flower 10-18 mm diameter, closely spaced, segments pale mauve to dark sky blue. Sepals and petals subsimilar, oblong to ovate-oblong, apex obtuse or subacute. Labellum oblong-obovate. Column erect 4.8-5.6 mm tall, basally white grading through mauve to dark mauve, violet, or banded brown/dark violet near apex, apex yellow; post-anther lobe taller than anther, erect, smooth or minutely tuberculate on the back, margins denticulate, slightly recurved, yellow; side lobe scarcely evident, forward pointing, fleshy, yellow; column-arms laterally flattened, narrow, erect and upcurved (rarely horizontal), upper two-thirds fringed with numerous, thin, brush-like white cilia; the arms bent inwards such that the cilia meet above anther apex. Anther broadly ovoid, green, with a prominent long, narrowly tapered, acute apex. Stigma with a short, broad rostellum.

Similar Taxa

Most likely to be confused with Thelymitra ixioides Sw., and T. tholiformis Molloy et Hatch, species with which it often grows. It differs from T. ixioides by its smooth rather than finely rugose leaf undersides; consistently unspotted flowers; yellow, denticulate, rather than purple, orange or reddish jagged post anther lobe furnished with numerous finger-like calli; and low forward pointing yellow, rather than high, erect, fleshy jagged purple or reddish yellow side lobes. From T. tholiformis it differs by its erect, non-hooded rather than tall, domed post anther lobe; presence of side lobes; and column arms bearing, thin brush-like rather than dense, globose cilia.


November - February

Flower Colours

Blue,Violet / Purple


December - April

Propagation Technique

Difficult - should not be moved from the wild as it is strongly mycorrhizal and soon dies if moved from its habit.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 40

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Not commercially available

Taxonomic notes

This species was included by Moore & Edgar (1970) in Thelymitra ixioides.


Fact Sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 14 April 2007. Description subsequently published in Rolfe & de Lange (2010).

References and further reading

Rolfe, J.R.; de Lange, P.J. 2010: Illustrated guide to New Zealand sun orchids, Thelymitra (Orchidaceae). Jeremy Rolfe, Wellington.

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

This page last updated on 13 May 2014