Cryptostylis subulata


Cryptostylis: From the Greek cryptos (hidden) and stylos (style) which refers to the very short column which is obscured by the basal lobes of the labellum.
subulata: from the Latin subulam ‘awl’, meaning awl-shaped

Common Name(s)

Duck bill orchid, large tongue orchid

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 - Non Resident Native - Coloniser
2004 - Non Resident Native - Coloniser


2012 - SO
2009 - SO


Cryptostylis subulata (Labill.) Rchb.f.



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



Malaxis subulata Labill., Cryptostylis longifolia R.Br.


Indigenous. In New Zealand only known from swamps north of Kaitaia and Coopers Beach. Abundant in Australia where it is known from Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania


Coastal to lowland peat bogs and associated slowly flowing streams and lakes. Often found growing amongst Baumea Gaudich. and Schoenus L.


Stout terrestrial orchid of peat bogs and lake margins. Leaves 1-3; petioles 10-190 mm long; lamina 30-180 x 13-40 mm, narrowly elliptic to narrowly oblong-elliptic, light to dark green on both surfaces, apex acute, base cuneiform to tapering. Flowering stem 0.25-1 m tall; sheathing bracts 3-5, distant. Flowers 5-12, pedicellate; pedicel + ovary 15-20 mm long; sepals and petals yellow-green, stiffly spreading , linear to very narrowly deltoid, margins inrolled; sepals 22 mm long; petals 13 mm long. Labellum 20-25 mm long, oblong, red-brown, acute, margins at centre rolled back, often overlapping or meeting, resulting in a constriction at that point within the labellum, concave near anther, elsewhere convex, keeled towards tip by 2 more or less bearded ridges, and 2 finer parallel ones, all four lines terminating in a conspicuous red-brown, 2-lobed, glandular boss near apex.

Similar Taxa

None in New Zealand


September - May

Flower Colours



November - June

Propagation Technique

Should not be removed from the wild. However, rather easily grown in a peat filled pot kept partially submerged in a tub of water, or in a suitably permanently damp, peaty, sunny spot in the garden.


Plant collectors and wetland destruction remain continual problems within the New Zealand part of its range.

Chromosome No.

2n = 64

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Minute spores are wind dispersed (Thorsen et al., 2009).

Where To Buy

Not commercially available.


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.

Thorsen, M. J.; Dickinson, K. J. M.; Seddon, P. J. 2009. Seed dispersal systems in the New Zealand flora. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 11: 285-309

This page last updated on 3 Jul 2014