Chiloglottis trapeziformis

Common Name(s)

Dainty Bird Orchid, 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 - Non Resident Native - Vagrant


2012 - SO
2009 - EW, SO


Chiloglottis trapeziformis Fitzg.



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

Structural Class



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


Indigenous. North Island. Formerly known from pine forest near Hokio Beach, Levin, on the Horowhenua Coast. That population was destroyed following logging. However, plants were rescued and planted nearby by people skilled in orchid management.


Known naturally in New Zealand from a coastal pine plantation near Hokio, Levin where it was discovered in 2001. Here it grew in several patches in dense drifts of semi-rotted pine needles. This population was destroyed in 2003 by logging. it is now regarded as extinct there. Plants were moved to other parts of the country - their exact fate is unknown.


Terrestrial orchid forming dense clonal masses within deep, partially rotted leaf litter, in shaded pine plantation forests. Flowering plants 70-140 mm tall. Leaves sessile to shortly petiolate, 22-55 x 7-20 mm, dark green to red-green, narrow-oblong to elliptic. Flower solitary on a long peduncle held well above foliage; brownish-green or reddish; dorsal sepal 10-13 mm long, erect, incruved, spathulate, with prominent apical point; lateral sepals 9-12 mm, spreading, often recruved, divergent, linear-lanceolate; petals deflexed against ovary, 11 mm long, broadly linear, somewhat asymmetric. Labellum on long claw, 10 mm long, erect, broadly rhombic, angular, apex obtuse; calli dark black, glossy, aggregated at base of expanded part of labellum and on common stout stalk, bearing two elongate compound calli usually at distal and apical ends of main calli cluster, the distal calli projected out from main cluster; tiny calli irregularly scattered on claw. Column with upper 1/2 broadly winged, the rounded wing apices positioned higher than the anther. Capsule rarely produced in New Zealand, few seen narrowly ellipsoid 5-10 mm long, terminal on greatly elongated peduncle.

Similar Taxa

Chiloglottis formicifera is similar but can be distinguished by the undulating leaf margins, shorter and larger flowers, and labellum which is more heavily ornamented with calli, with the central cluster having a remarkable resemblance to an ant. Chiloglottis cornuta could be confused though its flowers are borne on much shorter peduncles (often immersed within the foliage), and it has a greenish flower with deltoid rather than rhomboid labellum, and well spaced, rather closely packed and clustered stalked rather than sessile calli.



Flower Colours



November - February (rarely produced in New Zealand)

Propagation Technique

Easily grown in a moist, well drained, gritty soil freely mulched with semi-rotted pine needles and bark. Prefers semi-shade. An attractive species whose flowers with their remarkable ant-like calli are most unusual within the New Zealand orchid Flora.


By 2003 there were no natural populations of this species left in New Zealand. The only known population was destroyed because the site it had appeared in was a privately owned pine forest due to be logged. This species is abundant in Australia. It has been planted by New Zealand Native Orchid Group members in several North Island locations. The fate of these plantings is as yet unknown. This species does not readily set seed in New Zealand because its insect-pollination vector is apparently absent.

Chromosome No.

2n = c.40

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Not commercially available

Taxonomic notes

Chiloglottis trapeziformis (as Myrmechila trapeziformis) was formally admitted to the New Zealand flora by de Lange et al. (2007) based on a population discovered near Hokio, Levin. Recently (Miller & Clements 2014) have treated the segregate genera Myrmechila and Simpliglottis proposed by Szlachekto (2001) and Jones & Clements (2005) as synonyms of Chiloglottis.



Fact Sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 14 April 2007: Description from de Lange et al. (2007).

References and further reading

de Lange, P.; Rolfe, J. St George, I. Sawyer J. 2007: Wild orchids of the lower North Island. Department of Conservation, Wellington. 194pp.

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.

This page last updated on 6 Dec 2014