spotted sun orchid
Thelymitra ixioides var. typica Hatch, Thelymitra juncifolia Lindl., Thelymitra lilacina F.Muel. ex Lindl., Thelymitra iridioides Seib. ex Benth.
Vascular – Native
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.
2n = 28
Current conservation status
The threat classification 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) – more information about this can be found on the NZTCS website 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. Please note, threat classifications are often suggested by authors when publications fall between NZTCS assessment periods – a suggested threat classification status has not been assessed by the NZTCS panel.
2017 | At Risk – Naturally Uncommon | Qualifiers: S?O, Sp
Previous conservation statuses
2012 | At Risk – Naturally Uncommon | Qualifiers: Sp
2009 | Not Threatened
2004 | Not Threatened
Indigenous. North and South Islands. Also in Australia.
Coastal to montane (up to 900 m a.s.l.). In open ground, especially clay pans within gumland scrub but also colonising roadside banks, road gravel, stable dune slacks, and well-lighted but sparsely vegetated ground under taller scrub and forest. Sometimes in beech (Nothofagus Blume) forest or on the margins of montane streams. Rarely in peat bogs.
Wetland plant indicator status rating
Information derived from the revised national wetland plant list prepared to assist councils in delineating and monitoring wetlands (Clarkson et al., 2021 Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research Contract Report LC3975 for Hawke’s Bay Regional Council). The national plant list categorises plants by the extent to which they are found in wetlands and not ‘drylands’. The indicator status ratings are OBL (obligate wetland), FACW (facultative wetland), FAC (facultative), FACU (facultative upland), and UPL (obligate upland).
Commonly occurs as either a hydrophyte or non-hydrophyte (non-wetlands).
Terrestrial, tuberous, glabrous, spring to summer-green perennial herb, either solitary or in small colonies of 2-4 plants. Plant at flower up to 700 mm tall. Leaf solitary, fleshy, deeply channelled and more or less longitudinally ribbed, 50-120 mm long, reddish-green to almost silvery reddish-green near base otherwise yellow-green to dark green, linear-lanceolate, base closely sheathing, undersides finely rugose. Flowering stem stiffly erect, wiry, reddish green to silvery-green. Bracts 1-2(-3), foliaceous, closely-sheathing, fleshy, bases dark reddish-green to silvery reddish-green otherwise green to yellow-green. Raceme bearing (1-)5(-20) flowers (usually much less). Flowers 11-18 mm diameter, blue, segments widely spreading, dorsal sepal and petals with darker blue or purple spots. Sepals and petals very broad. Labellum distinctly rounded. Column up to 5 mm long, erect, bluish grading to dark purple near apex; column arms flattened, cilia white, largely marginal, column arms projecting from anterior margin of the side lobule, cilia white or mauve; post anther lobe slightly taller than anther, erect, not cucullate, the back and apex bearing numerous violet or yellow finger-like calli (the tallest yellow or orange); side lobules distinct, usually taller, yellow, margins mostly laciniate.
The reddish-green to silvery reddish-green, deeply ribbed leaves with finely rugose undersides, and distinctive blue flowers with darker blue or purple spots on the dorsal sepal and petals, and the non hooded, post anther lobe bearing conspicuous yellow or orange finger like calli immediately separate this species from any other Thelymitra in New Zealand. New Zealand plants are self pollinating and Australian plants insect-pollinated.
September - December
November - March
Difficult - should not be removed from the wild.
Not Threatened but hardly common either. Probably better classified as biologically sparse. This species rarely occurs in any abundance at any particular site and is very vulnerable to roadworks, animal browse, loss through succession to taller forest and because it has attractive flowers - plant collectors.
thelymitra: Woman’s hat
ixioides: Like an ixia
Where To Buy
Not commercially available
Notes on taxonomy
New Zealand plants differ from those in Australian (from where it was first described by their autogamous rather than entomophilous reproductive biology). For this reason New Zealand plants are usually regarded as an unnamed entity allied to T. ixioides. Research into the taxonomic status of the New Zealand plant is in progress.
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.