Chiloglottis formicifera

Common Name(s)

ant orchid

Current Conservation Status

2012 - Non Resident Native - Vagrant

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 - Non Resident Native - Vagrant
2004 - Not Threatened


2012 - SO
2009 - EW, SO


Chiloglottis formicifera Fitzg.



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

Structural Class



Myrmechila formicifera (Fitzg.) D.L.Jones et M.A.Clem.


In New Zealand known from only one historic site near Kaitaia. Abundant in eastern Australia


The sole New Zealand record came from under dense shrubland. In Australia this species is widespread though often sparsely distributed, and tends to grow near streams in deep drifts of leaf litter.


Terrestrial orchid forming dense colonies. Leaves up to 60 x 25 mm, dark green, ovate-lanceolate with undulose margins. Flower stem up to 100 mm tall, bearing a solitary, narrow, flower up to 20 mm diameter, segments mostly dark green with brownish markings, or brownish-green. Perianth segments up to 20 mm long. Dorsal sepal erect and incurved, lateral sepals recurved in the upper two thirds, divergent, apex not clavate, petals either spreading or reflexed against ovary. Labellum up to 12 x 7 mm, trapeziform, greenish to purple-green. Lamina callus ant-shaped, central, a band of pink to black glands extending from near the base of the lamina apex; basal transverse glands largest; the upper glands sessile. Fruiting capsules not seen in New Zealand.

Similar Taxa

Most similar to Chiloglottis trapeziformis from which it differs by the leaf margins which are usually undulose rather than flat; mostly larger, greenish-brown to brown (rather than green) flower often with purple green tones to the labellum; obliquely erect to erect (rather than erect) rhomboid (rather than truncate to rhomboid) labellum with the callus extending to the labellum apex (rather than confined to the basal portion); much more prominent central ant-shaped lamina callus; and greater calli ornamentation either side of the central callus.


September - November

Flower Colours



Fruits apparently not formed in New Zealand

Propagation Technique

Easily grown. Plants of Australian origin are held by some New Zealand specialists.


The only known New Zealand occurrence was eliminated through a combination of habitat loss and over collection by an amateur botanist. Had it survived here it is doubtful if it would have set seed as its pollination vector is absent from New Zealand.

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Not commercially available


Considerable controversy has surrounded the exact identity of the Kaitaia collections (see Scanlen 2003; de Lange et al. 2004)) - recently (de Lange et al. 2009 - as Myrmechila) agreed with Scanlen (2003) that the Kaitaia collections are not C. (Myrmechila) trapeziformis but are correctly assigned to C. (Myrmechila) formicifera. Research by Miller & Clements (2014) has now shown that the segregate genera Myrmechila and Simpliglottis proposed by Szlachekto (2001) and Jones & Clements (2005) should be reduced to synonymy within Chiloglottis. Their treatment is followed here.


Fact Sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 14 April 2007: Description adapted from Jones (1998) and Moore & Edgar (1970).

References and further reading

de Lange, P.J.; Norton, D.A.; Heenan, P.B.; Courtney, S.P.; Molloy, B.P.J.; Ogle, C.C.; Rance, B.D.; Johnson, P.N.; Hitchmough, R. 2004: Threatened and uncommon plants of New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Botany 42: 45-76.

de Lange, P.J.; Norton, D.A.; Courtney, S.P.; Heenan, P.B.; Barkla, J.W.; Cameron, E.K.; Hitchmough, R.; Townsend, A.J. 2009: Threatened and uncommon plants of New Zealand (2008 revision). New Zealand Journal of Botany 47: 61-96

Jones, D.L. 1998: Native Orchids of Australia. Reed, Australia.

Jones, D.L.; Clements, M.A. 2005: Miscellaneous Nomenclatural Notes and Changes in Australian, New Guinea and New Zealand Orchidaceae. The Orchadian 15: 33-42.

Miller J.T.; Clements, M.A. 2014: Molecular phylogenetic analyses of Drakaeinae: Diurideae (Orchidaceae) based on DNA sequences of the internal transcribed spacer region. Australian Systematic Botany 27: 3-22.

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

Scanlen, E. 2003: The Column. 2. Chiloglottis round up. The New Zealand Native Orchid Journal 86: 14-15.

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

This page last updated on 3 Dec 2014