Corybas confusus


Corybas: helmet flower
confusus: In reference to the difficult of identification and the confusion caused through general similarity to other plants

Common Name(s)

spider orchid

Current Conservation Status

2016 - Not Threatened

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


Corybas confusus Lehnebach



Brief Description

Terrestrial, seasonal orchid. Leaves solitary heart-shaped or broadly ovate, distinctly mucronate. Flowers solitary, dark maroon.

Flora Category

Vascular - Native

Structural Class



None - described in 2016


Endemic. New Zealand, North and South Islands, possibly the Chatham Islands (where plants currently referred to C. aff. sulcatus approach it)


A species of primarily beech (Lophozonia (Nothofagaceae)) forest, montane to subalpine scrub and tussock grassland, in damp mossy areas ranging from 1000-1100 m a.s.l.


Terrestrial herbs, 12–30 mm tall at flowering. Leaf distinctly petiolate, petiole 2.8–31.4 mm long; lamina cordiform to widely ovate, 9.7–19.0 × 10.8–21.3 mm; margin entire; apex mucronate with mucro 0.1–2.2 mm long. Flower solitary, held erect on a peduncle 0.6–7.8 mm long; floral bract triangular to widely deltoid when flattened, 1.0–6.6 × 1.3–3.0 mm; dorsal sepal dark or light green, with red-maroon streaks and blotches towards the apex, arching over the labellum, concave to cucullate, narrow at the base and spathulate towards the tip, apex obtuse or slightly retuse; lateral sepals linear-filiform, whitish or red to maroon, 13.1–46.1 mm long; petals similar to the lateral sepals but longer, 27–75 mm long; labellum dark red to maroon with a pale green to yellowish centre, auriculate at base, aperture 0.8–3.0 mm in diameter; lamina deflexed, ca. 7–10 mm wide, with a central groove formed by an inwards folding of the lamina, extending downwards almost to the lower margin and sunken pit formed at the point where the lamina bends, upper margin incurving, mostly entire but finely erose or lacinate towards the lower margin, apex notched, inner surface covered with small hairs. Ovary 3.0–7.6 mm long. Column 2.1 mm long, straight, with truncate to emarginate wings at either side of the stigma.

Similar Taxa

Allied to Corybas trilobus from which it differs by its widely ovate to cordiform, distinctly mucronate leaf and dark maroon labellum. Corybas confusus resembles C. obscurus in the dark maroon colour of the labellum but differs from that species by its dark to light green dorsal sepal with obtuse to slightly retuse apex that extends beyond the labellum.


October - December

Flower Colours

Purple,Red / Pink


November - January

Propagation Technique

Difficult - should not be removed from the wild


Lehnebach et al. (2016) assess this species using the New Zealand Threat Classification System as "Not Threatened". This decision has yet to be ratified by the Threat Listing panel.

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family



Fact Sheet prepared by P.J. de Lange (13 August 2016). Description from Lehnebach et al. (2016)

References and further reading

Lehnebach, C.A., Zeller, A.J.; Frericks, J.; Ritchie, P. 2016: Five new species of Corybas (Diurideae, Orchidaceae) endemic to New Zealand and phylogeny of the Nematoceras clade. Phytotaxa 270:1-24.

This page last updated on 15 Aug 2016