Cooper’s black orchid
None - first described in 2016
Vascular – Native
Current conservation status
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2017 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2012 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: By Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, John W. Barkla, Shannel P. Courtney, Paul D. Champion, Leon R. Perrie, Sarah M. Beadel, Kerry A. Ford, Ilse Breitwieser, Ines Schönberger, Rowan Hindmarsh-Walls, Peter B. Heenan and Kate Ladley.
2018 | Threatened – Nationally Critical
Previous conservation status
2016 | Threatened – Nationally Critical
A terrestrial, parasitic orchid (all parts without chlorophyll). Plants with tubers, producing numerous stems. Flowers fragrant, numerous pendulous, dark brown—green, labellum evident at flower mouth, apex dark brown—black.
Endemic. New Zealand, North and South Islands (Wairarapa, North-West Nelson)
Gastrodia cooperae is known in the North Island from a small area of rawirinui (Kunzea robusta) forest, and from the South Island from southern beech (Fuscospora solandri) forest. Gastrodia cooperae seems to have a similar ecology to G. cunninghamii with which it is syntopic in the South Island and once was in the North Island sites where G. cooperae historically occurred.
Terrestrial, parasitic (on fungi), leafless, achlorophyllous, herb. Rhizome tuberous, pale brown. Plant 220–360–455–960 mm tall at flowering. Stem solitary, glabrous, dark to pale brown with greyish longitudinal streaks; 1.2–1.6–2.6–4.5 mm diameter. Inflorescence erect, terminal, flowers 6–40, scented, erect when developing and pendulous at anthesis. Floral bract papery, glabrous, deltoid to widely deltoid, apex acute, 2.1–6.6 × 1.6–2.2 mm. Pedicel 1.6–5.3 mm long. Perianth tube 4.9–10.4 × 2.5–5.3 mm, brown to dark brown, surface with pale green to gray wartlike elevations. Sepals reflexed, white to pale green abaxially; margin entire to slightly irregular towards the apex; apex acuminate. Petals adnate to the tube formed by the sepals, oblong, 3.0–3.4 × 1.3–1.8 mm, white on both sides; margin irregular, apex obtuse to round. Labellum 6.5–10.8 mm long; adnate to the base of the perianth, fleshy. Hypochile pale brown, covered with pseudo-pollen, margin entire. Mesochile strongly contracted; margins entire. Epychile trilobed, white at the base to pale yellow towards the apex. Lateral margins incurved, entire in the basal portion then irregularly crenate to cristate towards the apex. Labellum apex fleshy, dark brown to black. Two pale yellow ridges covered in pseudo-pollen extend from the mid-section of the epychile to the apex where they join. Column erect, 5.4–7.8 mm tall, narrow at base and wide towards the apex, 1.2–2.0 mm wide. One oblong or two deltoid wings flank the rostellum. Pollinia two; rostellum flap like, positioned under anther. Stigma at base of the column, ovate. Ovary 3.7–4.6 × 6.1–6.7 mm long, brown with a few greyish wart-like elevations. Capsules upright when mature; seeds pale brown
Allied to Gastrodia cunninghamii, G. molloyi and G. sesamoides. From Gastrodia cunninghamii it is easily distinguished by the long rather than short column (thus the column is not visible at the flower mouth). From G. sesamoides it can be distinguished by the dark brown to black rather than pale brown to cream or pale pink perianth, and by the tuberculate rather than smooth stem and flower surfaces. From Gastrodia molloyi, G. cooperae differs by the dark brown to black rather than greenish gold to golden brown perianth; and by the labellum apex which is dark brown to black rather than yellow to orange.
December - January
January - February
A parasitic species (on fungi) which should not be removed from the wild
Historically recorded from several North Island sites - from two of which it now seems to be extinct (the reasons why are not clear). The extant populations (three, one North Island, two South Island) are believed to comprise fewer than 250 mature individuals so making this species ‘Threatened / Nationally Critical, Criterion A1 (Lehnebach et al. 2016; Townsend et al. 2008). While no threats have been documented, the larger Gastrodia species are browsed by possums (Trichosurus vulpecula), and vulnerable to plant collectors.
gastrodia: Belly tooth (flower centre)
cooperae: In recognition of Dorothy ‘Dot’ A. Cooper (1941–) who established the New Zealand Native Orchid Group and who authored the Field Guide to New Zealand orchids, which led to the recognition of this species as distinct
Fact Sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange (1 October 2016). Description from Lehnebach et al. (2016)
References and further reading
Lehnebach, C.A.; Rolfe, J.R.; Gibbins, J.; Ritchie, P. 2016: Two new species of Gastrodia (Gastrodieae, Orchidaceae) endemic to New Zealand. Phytotaxa 277: 237–254.
Townsend, A.J.; de Lange P.J.; Duffy, C.A.J.; Miskelly C.M.; Molloy J.; Norton D.A. 2008: New Zealand Threat Classification System manual. Department of Conservation, Wellington. 35 pp.
NZPCN Gastrodia Key prepared by Jeremy Rolfe (pdf, 5Mb)
NZPCN Fact Sheet citation
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Gastrodia cooperae Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/gastrodia-cooperae/ (Date website was queried)