Thelymitra ixioides


Thelymitra: woman's hat
ixioides: like an ixia

Common Name(s)

spotted sun orchid

Current Conservation Status

2012 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon

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


2012 - Sp


Thelymitra ixioides Sw.



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



Thelymitra ixioides var. typica Hatch, Thelymitra juncifolia Lindl., Thelymitra lilacina F.Muel. ex Lindl., Thelymitra iridioides Seib. ex Benth.


Indigenous. North and South Islands. Also in Australia.


Coastal to montane (up to 900 m a.s.l.). In open ground, especially clay pans within gumland scrub but also colonising roadside banks, road gravel, stable dune slacks, and well-lighted but sparsely vegetated ground under taller scrub and forest. Sometimes in beech (Nothofagus Blume) forest or on the margins of montane streams. Rarely in peat bogs.


Terrestrial, tuberous, glabrous, spring to summer-green perennial herb, either solitary or in small colonies of 2-4 plants. Plant at flower up to 700 mm tall. Leaf solitary, fleshy, deeply channelled and more or less longitudinally ribbed, 50-120 mm long, reddish-green to almost silvery reddish-green near base otherwise yellow-green to dark green, linear-lanceolate, base closely sheathing, undersides finely rugose. Flowering stem stiffly erect, wiry, reddish green to silvery-green. Bracts 1-2(-3), foliaceous, closely-sheathing, fleshy, bases dark reddish-green to silvery reddish-green otherwise green to yellow-green. Raceme bearing (1-)5(-20) flowers (usually much less). Flowers 11-18 mm diameter, blue, segments widely spreading, dorsal sepal and petals with darker blue or purple spots. Sepals and petals very broad. Labellum distinctly rounded. Column up to 5 mm long, erect, bluish grading to dark purple near apex; column arms flattened, cilia white, largely marginal, column arms projecting from anterior margin of the side lobule, cilia white or mauve; post anther lobe slightly taller than anther, erect, not cucullate, the back and apex bearing numerous violet or yellow finger-like calli (the tallest yellow or orange); side lobules distinct, usually taller, yellow, margins mostly laciniate.

Similar Taxa

The reddish-green to silvery reddish-green, deeply ribbed leaves with finely rugose undersides, and distinctive blue flowers with darker blue or purple spots on the dorsal sepal and petals, and the non hooded, post anther lobe bearing conspicuous yellow or orange finger like calli immediately separate this species from any other Thelymitra in New Zealand. New Zealand plants are self pollinating and Australian plants insect-pollinated.


September - December

Flower Colours

Blue,Violet / Purple


November - March

Propagation Technique

Difficult - should not be removed from the wild.


Not Threatened but hardly common either. Probably better classified as biologically sparse. This species rarely occurs in any abundance at any particular site and is very vulnerable to roadworks, animal browse, loss through succession to taller forest and because it has attractive flowers - plant collectors.

Chromosome No.

2n = 28

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Not commercially available

Notes on taxonomy

New Zealand plants differ from those in Australian (from where it was first described by their autogamous rather than entomophilous reproductive biology). For this reason New Zealand plants are usually regarded as an unnamed entity allied to T. ixioides. Research into the taxonomic status of the New Zealand plant is in progress.


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 11 Aug 2014