Acianthus: sharp or pointed flower
sinclairii: after Sinclair
Heart-leaved orchid, Pixie cap
Acianthus sinclairii Hook.f.
Vascular - Native
Acianthus fornicatus var. sinclairii (Hook. f.) Hatch
Endemic, Present on Raoul (Kermadec Islands group), Three Kings Island group, North, South, Stewart and Chatham Islands. In the South Island rare in the east south of Marlborough, extending to Fiordland in the west.
Coastal to montane (up to 1100 m a.s.l.). Usually in lightly shaded to heavily shaded shrubland and forest. Very rarely found in more open, sunny habitats. Often near streams or within seepages in forest.
Diminutive perennial herb. Plants at flower up to 100 mm tall, often elongating further in seed. Stem erect, slender, hyaline suffused with red or purple. The single leaf sessile, inserted at about one half to one quarter up stem, 10-35 mm long, green sometimes mottled or flecked maroon, ovate, acuminate, base cordate. Raceme to 50 mm long. Floral bract small, membranous, foliaceous, green or green tinged with maroon, ovate. Flowers 1-10 not obviously scented; perianth 6-8 mm long, more or less erect, usually greenish, often purpled, with dull red on labellum. Sepals shortly and abruptly caudate; dorsal sepal broadly lanceolate to ovate, concave, arched over column; lateral sepal similar of similar length, linear-lanceolate. Petals shorter, lanceolate, acuminate. Labellum shorter than sepals, broad-ovate; apex acute and more or less recurved, often coarsely papillose; proximal portion deeply concave, bearing two rounded calli at base. Column shorter than labellum, without wings. Pollinia globose, 4 in each anther cell, mor eor less coherent, eventually breaking into tetrads of grains toward the end of flowering.
Most likely to be confused when vegetative with species of spider orchid (Nematoceras Hook.f.) from which it is not easily distinguished unless bearing flower buds, which are multiple in a raceme, rather than mostly solitary, rarely in pairs. Plants are somewhat similar to species of Cyrtostylis R.Br. but Cyrtostylis tends to favour more open habitats and these species have sessile leaves held close to or at the base of the stem and lying on or very close to the ground, and the labellum is larger, oblong, rather than ovate, and the petals are as long as, or longer than the lateral sepals, rather than much shorter. The very uncommon Townsonia deflexa forms interconnected creeping patches, and has a much smaller, petiolate leaf distinct from the flowering stem which supports a small, orbicular rather than ovate cauline leaf. Townsonia usually has 1-2(-4) rather than (1-)6(-10) flowers, a winged column (not winged in Acianthus sinclairii), and the sepals are not caudate (caudate in Acianthus sinclairii).
January - October
Main Flower Colour
Other Flower Colour
Violet / Purple
April - December
Easily grown from the division of whole plants. Does best in deep, moist leaf litter such as that produced under kanuka (Kunzea ericoides (A.Rich) Joy Thomps.) trees. Easily established in a semi-shaded site and excellent in pots. Should not be allowed to dry out during the growing season.
2n = 40
Where To Buy
Not commercially available
Description adapted from: Moore, L.B.; Edgar, E. 1970: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. II. Government Printer, Wellington.
This page last updated on 18 Jan 2010