Taeniophyllum norfolkianum

Common Name(s)

minute orchid, orchid spaghetti, Norfolk Island ribbonroot

Current Conservation Status

2012 - Non Resident Native - Coloniser

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 - Data Deficient


2012 - DP, OL, TO


Taeniophyllum norfolkianum D.L.Jones, B.Gray et M.A.Clem.



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

Structural Class



Taeniophyllum muelleri Lindl. ex Benth. auct. non.


Indigenous. New Zealand, North Island. Also on Norfolk Island where it had previously be regarded as endemic.


In New Zealand this species has so far been recorded only from the upper trunk and branches of gorse (Ulex europaeus). On Norfolk Island it is a locally common epiphyte of Norfolk Island pine (Araucauria heterophylla) and Wilkstroemia australis within the central forested part of the island.


Diminutive epiphytic orchid; plant 30-50 mm diameter, growing tightly appressed to bark in moist, well lighted to semi-shaded situations. Roots terete, fleshy, swollen, c.1.0-1.5 mm diameter, up to 25 mm long, pale green to yellow-green. Leaves reducted to caducous scales on inflorescence. Inflorescence a 1-6-flowered raceme; raceme 15-25 mm long, bracteose, peduncle and rhacis capillary, zig-zagged between flower; bracts minute, narrowly ovate, caducous. Sepals and petals greenish yellow, fleshy, scarcely opening, and only then in the upper 1/2 to one 1/3. Dorsal sepal 3.5 x 0.5 mm, lateral sepals 3.2 x 0.6 mm. Petals 3.2 x 0.6 mm. Labellum 1.5 mm long, scaphoid, 3.2-3.3 mm long, minutely 3-lobed, bearing minute apical appendage; spur c.1,3 mm long. Capsule ellipsoidal, 6 mm long.

Similar Taxa

Easily recognised by seemingly leafless, greenish roots from which arise (in the appropriate season) small greenish-yellow flowers. In New Zealand plants could be confused with Drymoanthus which has rather similar looking roots, but which differs by the white (not green) roots, and by possessing large, conspicuous leaves. Beadel et al. (2010) noted that the flowers of New Zealand specimens were 7-10 mm long, this is much larger than the range given by Jones (2006) and that of the specimens they lodged in AK. The measurements given in the description here is based on those herbarium specimens. Nevertheless, even these gave size ranges larger than those given by Jones (2006) suggesting that the exact identity of New Zealand plants may require further investigation.



Flower Colours




Propagation Technique

Difficult - should be left in the wild


The only known New Zealand population which was discovered late in 2009 occurs on private within a gorse dominated shrubland and silver fern (Cyathea dealbata) - mahoe (Melicytus ramiflorus) forest remnant south of Whangarei. At this stage the species is not known to be directly threatened within this habitat though it is vulnerable to fire. As Taeniophyllum is very small and easily overlooked it is likely that it occurs elsewhere in northern New Zealand. Because the species was discovered in late 2009 it has yet to receive a formal threat ranking. However, based on available evidence the species probably best qualifies as "Data Deficient".

Chromosome No.

n = 19II 2n = 38

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family



This description was prepared by P. J. de Lange 27 September 2010 based on New Zealand specimens supplemented by Jones (2006) - capsule description from Green (1994, as T. muelleri though based on Norfolk Island specimens).

References and further reading

Beadel, S.; Renner, M.; Brandes, U. 2010: A new species of epiphytic orchidfor New Zealand, near Whangarei. Trilepidea 82: 3-4.

Green, P.S. 1994: Flora of Australia 49 - Oceanic Islands 1.  Canberra, AGPS.

Jones, D.L. 2006: A complete guide to the native orchids of Australia including the island territories. Sydney, New Holland Publishers Ltd.

This page last updated on 19 Jan 2014