Molloy’s potato orchid
None - first described in 2016
Vascular – Native
A terrestrial, saprophytic orchid (all parts without chlorophyll). Plants with tubers, producing numerous stems. Flowers numerous pendulous, golden-brown to dark green, fragrant.
Endemic. New Zealand. North, South and Stewart Island (widespread from South Auckland southwards)
Gastrodia molloyi is often found in disturbed sites including, willow car, flood-prone waterways, tracksides where it may be found growing amongst exotic weeds and grasses, and in forests (especially silver beech (Lophozonia menziesii) forest. It is also known from indigenous forests dominated by tawa (Beilschmiedia tawa), rawirinui (Kunzea robusta), Nothofagaceae and scrublands dominated by Kunzea species or kahikato (Leptospermum scoparium agg.).
Terrestrial, saprophytic, leafless, achlorophyllous herb. Rhizome tuberous, pale brown to blackish, often covered in papery scales. Plant 296–800 mm tall at flowering. Stem solitary, glabrous, golden brown to pale pink-greyish, with gray-whitish longitudinal streaks; 1.8–8.5 mm diameter. Stem bracts 3–5, papery, glabrous, sheathing. Inflorescence erect, terminal, flowers 12–55, densely arranged, non-resupinated, nectarless, scented, erect when developing and pendulous at anthesis. Floral bract papery, glabrous, deltoid, apex acute, 3.3–9.3 × 1.8–2.7 mm. Pedicel 1.1–6.6 mm long. Perianth tube 7.7–14.1 × 2.3–7.6 mm, greenish gold to golden brown, surface with pale green to gray wart-like elevations. Sepals slightly 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, 2.7–4.4 × 1.3–2.0 mm, white on both sides; margin irregular, apex obtuse. Labellum 7.8–10.5 mm long; adnate to the base of the perianth, fleshy. Hypochile yellow to orange, covered in pseudo-pollen, margin entire. Mesochile strongly contracted; margins entire. Epychile trilobed, white. Lateral margins incurved, entire in the basal portion then irregularly crenate to cristate towards the apex. Two bright yellow to orange, warty ridges extend from the basal section of the epychile to the middle section, where they join and extend as one towards the apex. Pseudo-pollen accumulates on both sides of the ridge. Labellum apex fleshy, yellow to orange. Column erect, 6.8–7.9 mm tall, narrow at base and wide towards the apex, 2.5–3.7 mm wide. The rostellum is flanked by one oblong or two deltoid column wings. Pollinia two; rostellum flap like, positioned under anther. Stigma at base of the column, ovate. Ovary 3.4–4.3 × 6.2–8.7 mm long, brown with a few grayish wart-like elevations. Capsules upright when mature; seeds pale brown.
Allied to Gastrodia cunninghamii, G. cooperae and G. sesamoides. The long column, which is visible in the mouth of the flower, easily distinguishes G. molloyi from Gastrodia cunninghamii, which has a short column that is not visible at the flower mouth. From G. sesamoides it can be distinguished by the greenish gold to golden brown rather than pale brown to cream or pale pink perianth, and by the tuberculate rather than smooth stem and flower surfaces. From Gastrodia cooperae, G. molloyi differs by the greenish gold to golden brown rather than dark brown to black perianth; and by labellum apex which is yellow to orange rather than brown to black.
December - March
January - April
A saprophytic species which should not be removed from the wild
Gastrodia molloyi is widespread throughout most of NZ south of Auckland. It is, therefore, regarded as ‘Not Threatened’ using the criteria of Townsend et al. (2008)
gastrodia: Belly tooth (flower centre)
molloyi: The epithet “molloyi” honours Brian P. J. Molloy (1930–) an eminent New Zealand botanist, biosystematist, ecologist, and conservationist. Molloy’s taxonomic interest covered New Zealand conifers, Melicytus, Pachystegia, Hebe, Leucogenes and especially New Zealand orchids.
Fact Sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange (2 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 molloyi Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/gastrodia-molloyi/ (Date website was queried)