Pterostylis trullifolia


Pterostylis: winged column

Common Name(s)

trowel-leaved 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


Pterostylis trullifolia Hook.f.



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



Pterostylis rubella Colenso; Pterostylis trullifolia var. gracilis Cheeseman; Diplodium trullifolium (Hook.f.) D.L.Jones, Molloy et M.A.Clem.


Endemic. Three Kings, North and South Islands to about Canterbury and north Westland


Coastal to montane (up to 1100 m a.s.l.). Usually on the forest floor in sparse leaf litter, open clay pans under scrub or amongst mosses in semi-shaded successional forest. Occasional invades rough pasture and lawns bordering forest remnants. Often found growing with Pterostylis alobula.


Terrestrial, colony forming, perennial herb. Plants at flowering up to 320 mm tall. Stem green or reddish-green, slender, terete, mostly smooth, sometimes with the upper internodes minutely rugose; internodes usually > leaves. Petiolate leaves in a compact rosette at base of flowering stem; petiole distinct up to 10 mm long (usually less) not winged; leaf lamina 5-10 x 5-10 mm, dark green to green or reddish-green, broad-ovate to orbicular-cordate, apex acute to subacute, veins raised on upper leaf surface imparting a distinctly rugose, bullate-alveolate (embossed) texture. Cauline leaves 2-8, 5-20 x 2-5 mm, dark green, green to reddish-green, lowermost shortly petiolate and more or less trowel-shaped, grading into sessile, linear-lanceolate leaves, uppermost rarely overtopping ovary. Flower 1(-2) erect, green and white striped rarely tinged with red. Dorsal sepal 10-15 mm tall, apex acuminate, more or less horizontal; lateral sepals diverging at a wide angle forming a U or wide W shape when viewed from the front, sinus abruptly and prominently jugate in side view, tips long-caudate and much overtopping galea. Petals almost as long as dorsal sepal, with only a narrow marginal strip exposed. Labellum narrow-triangular, arched and protruding, apex subacute. Column shorter than labellum; stigma elliptic, slightly prominent.

Similar Taxa

Most likely to be confused with Pterostylis alobula from which it differs by its distinctly embossed rosette leaves, more slender, taller habit, smaller often red-tinged flowers, and by the more slender apex of the labellum which lacks the inverted U typical of P. alobula.


May - September

Flower Colours



July - January

Propagation Technique

Moderately easy to grow, especially in a pot. Should not be removed from the wild.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 50

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Minute seeds are wind dispersed (Thorsen et al., 2009).

Where To Buy

Not commercially available.


Jane et al. (2010) following a thorough rDNA (ITS) based analysis of the segregate genera erected for Pterostylis R.Br. by Szlachekto (2001) and Jones et al. (2002) found no support to continue their recognition. This view, in the process of being adopted by the Australian Plants Names Index, is followed here.



Fact Sheet prepared by P.J. de Lange (14 April 2007). Description adapted from Moore & Edgar (1970)

References and further reading

Janes, J.K.; Dorothy A. S.; Vaillancourt, R.E.; Duretto, M.F. 2010: A new classification for subtribe Pterostylidinae (Orchidaceae), reaffirming Pterostylis in the broad senseAustralian Systematic Botany 23: 260–269

Jones, D.L.; Clements, M.A.; Molloy, B.P.J 2002: A Synopsis of the Subtribe Pterostylidinae. Australian Orchid Research 4: 129-146.

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

Szlachekto, D.L. 2001: Genera et Species Orchidalium 1. Polish Botanical Journal 46: 11-26.

Thorsen, M. J.; Dickinson, K. J. M.; Seddon, P. J. 2009. Seed dispersal systems in the New Zealand flora. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 11: 285-309

This page last updated on 8 May 2017