Calochilus herbaceus


Calochilus: From Greek kalos (beautiful) and cheilos (lip), referring to the attractive labellum

Common Name(s)

copper beard orchid

Current Conservation Status

2012 - Threatened - Nationally Critical

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 - Threatened - Nationally Critical
2004 - Threatened - Nationally Critical


2012 - EF, SO, Sp
2009 - SO, EF, Sp


Calochilus herbaceus Lindl.



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

Structural Class



New Zealand plants have been called C. campestris R.Br. another Australian species to which C. herbaceus is allied.


Indigenous. New Zealand, North Island. Formerly recorded from the Aranga Swamp near Maunganui Bluff. It is now known from a few scattered populations ranging from Te Paki south to Albany. Also present in Australia


A coastal and lowland species of open ground within gum land scrub, peat bogs, ephemeral wetlands and clay pans.


Stout orchid 300-700 mm tall. Stem erect, glaucous green to green, fleshy, rather stout. Leaf fleshy, linear-lanceolate, glaucous-green to dark green, channelled, sheathing at base. Cauline bracts similar but much shorter. Inflorescence a raceme of (1-)2(-5) flowers. Floral bracts narrow, acute, overtopping ovary. Perianth green, glaucous-green to bright green except for the violet lamina and red cilia of labellum. Dorsal sepal 10-15 mm long, broad-elliptic, acute, somewhat folded about column; lateral sepals similar though smaller. Petals shorter, obliquely deltoid, apex subacute, directed toward dorsal sepal, green finely striped with red. Labellum violet, with a green apex, not much larger than sepals and petals; ligulate apex short, sinuous; disc broad with shorter, fewer processes; base bearing two, longitudinal metallic blue (rarely green) plate-like calli. Column wings with one distinct, dark gland or callus near base.

Similar Taxa

Immediately distinguished from C. robertsonii Benth., and C. paludosus R.Br., by the greenish-yellow flowers with red striped petals, a distinctive violet blue labellum, bearing red whisker like cilia.


October – December

Flower Colours

Green,Violet / Purple


October – February

Propagation Technique

Difficult. Should not be removed from the wild.


Habitat loss and plant collectors are the main threats to this attractive bearded orchid

Chromosome No.

2n = 22

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Not commercially available

Cultural Use/Importance

New Zealand plants and some Australian populations differ slightly from C. herbaceus sens. str. and it is thought that they probably warrant separate taxonomic recognition (D.L. Jones pers. comm.).


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 14 Aug 2014