Dendrobium cunninghamii


Dendrobium: From the Greek dendron 'tree' and bios 'life', alluding to the wild plants being epiphytic on trees
cunninghamii: Named after Allan Cunningham (1791 – 1839) who was an English botanist and explorer, primarily known for his travels to Australia (New South Wales) and New Zealand to collect plants. Author of Florae Insularum Novae Zelandiae Precursor, 1837-40 (Introduction to the flora of New Zealand).

Common Name(s)

Winika, pekapeka, Christmas orchid, bamboo orchid

Current Conservation Status

2012 - 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

Previous Conservation Status

2009 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened


Dendrobium cunninghamii Lindl.



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



Winika cunninghamii (Lindl.) M.A.Clem., D.L.Jones et Molloy


Endemic. North, South, Stewart and Chatham Islands


Coastal to montane. Mostly epiphytic on forest tree trunks and branches, sometimes on fallen logs, and found as a also rupestral on rocks, cliff faces or banks. Occasionally colonising brick or concrete walls within urban areas.


Epiphytic or rupestral, rhizomatous, perennial forming discrete tufted patches up to 1.5 x 2.0 m. Rhizome suberect to ascending, similar to stems, producing numerous more or less branched roots. Stems cane-like, long persistent, firm, wiry, and mostly slender, thickening towards base, up to 7 mm diameter, yellow-green, bright yellow to orange, glossy with obvious internodes and thickened nodes; unbranched in lower third, otherwise bearing numerous lateral, widely spreading, somewhat drooping branches. Leaf-sheaths tubular,minutely papillose, imbricating, covering younger stems; leaf lamina 30-50 x 3 mm, dark green, green to yellow-green darkened at junction with leaf-sheath, narrow-linear. Inflorescences 1-6-8-flowered, produced several nodes back from the active vegetative apex, usually as short, slender laterals; floral bracts inconspicuous, short, tubular; pedicel very slender, longer than ovary. Perianth 20-25(-30) mm diameter, glabrous, white (rarely cream), lip and column usually rose-pink, purplish to green. Sepals elliptic, spreading, apices more or less reflexed; lateral sepals fused under labellum and attached to column-base. Petals slightly broader. Labellum shorter, distinctly trilobed; lateral lobes small, often highly coloured, inclined to stand parallel to one another; mid-lobe white, broad, subacute, minutely crenulate; disc with 4-5 pale-coloured, low, longitudinal ridges terminating just above short claw and near to a colourful knob-like nectary situated at the end of the column-foot. Column about as long as its foot, cylindric, very narrowly winged. Capsules initially green, ovoid, maturing greyish-white, often striped with maroon or purple.

Similar Taxa

None. This species is easily recognised by its bright yellow to orange cane-like stems, tufted growth habit and spectacular, large white and usually rose-pink or purple flowers.


December - June

Flower Colours

Red / Pink,White


January - August

Propagation Technique

Easily grown in a hanging basket in standard orchid mix. Often can be strapped to a tree trunk and provided it is kept moist during the drier months it grows readily. This species does best in semi-shade. Should not be removed from the wild


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 40

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Occasionally availabe from specialist native plant nurseries

Taxonomic notes

The generic distinction of Winika from Dendrobium was always considered by many orchidologists dubious (M. Chase pers. comm. 2000), in part because little comparative data had been published to support the new monotypic genus (see Clements et al. 1997). Recently there has been much investigation into the validity of splitting the Australian Dendrobium into numerous segregate genera and some of those studies have included samples of Winika (Adams 2011; Burke et al. 2008). Garnock-Jones (2014)  in reviewing these (and other) papers has questioned the continued recognition of Winika as distinct by New Zealand botanists, especially as outside New Zealand no one else is accepting it. Therefore, the traditional broad circumscription of Dendrobium is here favoured over the narrow, and Winika is treated as a synonym of Dendrobium.


Fact Sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 14 April 2007. Description adapted from Moore and Edgar (1997).

References and further reading

Adams, P.B. 2011: Systematics of Dendrobiinae (Orchidaceae), with special reference to Australian taxa. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 166: 105-126.

Burke, J.M.; Bayley M.J.; Adams, P.B.; Ladiges, P.Y. 2008: Molecular phylogenetic analysis of Dendrobium (Orchidaceae), with emphasis on the Australian section Dendrocoryne, and implications for generic classification. Australian Systematic Botany 21: 1-14.

Clements, M.A.; Jones, D.L.; Molloy, B. 1997: Winika, a new monotypic genus for the New Zealand orchid previously known as Dendrobium cunninghamii Lindl.. The Orchadian 12: 214-215.

Garnock-Jones, P.J. 2014: Evidence-based review of the taxonomic status of New Zealand's endemic seed plant genera. New Zealand Journal of Botany 52: 163-212.

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



This page last updated on 10 Dec 2014