mauve sun orchid
Vascular – Native
2n = 26
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.
2012 | Non-resident Native – Coloniser | Qualifiers: EF, SO
Previous conservation statuses
2009 | Non-resident Native – Coloniser | Qualifiers: SO
2004 | Non-resident Native – Coloniser
Indigenous. North Island where known locally from the North Cape area, Ahipara Gumfields, Kaimaumau and Lake Ohia wetlands near Kaitaia and from Ngawha Springs near Kaikohe. Common in eastern Australia in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia.
Open ground within peat bogs and wetlands, nearly always found in association with rotting kauri (Agathis australis (D.Don) Lindl.) logs.
Glabrous, terrestrial orchid. Tubers ovoid 10-30 x 5-12 mm, fleshy, pinkish-grey. Leaf linear to linear-lanceolate, 100-350 x 5-20 mm, light to dark green with a purple base, erect, canaliculate, fleshy, abaxial surface ribbed, sheathing at base, apex acute. Inflorescence 0.25-0.75(-0.9) m tall, 1.5-5.0 mm diameter, stout, fleshy, straight, green to purple-green. Sterile bracts (2-)3, linear to linear-lanceolate, 20-100 x 4-11 mm, closely sheathing, acute to acuminate, green or purple-green, upper bract usually free with base usually only half encircling the scape. Fertile bracts 8-30 x 3-6 mm, green or purple-green, ovate-acuminate to obovate-acuminate, sheathing the pedicels. Pedicels 5-15 mm long, slender. Ovary cylindrical to narrow-obovoid, 5-12 x 2-4 mm. Flowers 3-25, 18-32 mm diameter, slate blue to mauve inside, sepals greenish outside, opening readily in warm weather. Perianth segments 8-16 x 3-7 mm, concave, acute, shortly apiculate; dorsal sepal elliptic to lanceolate; lateral sepals elliptic to lanceolate, asymmetric; petals ovate to lanceolate; labellum elliptic to linear-lanceolate, often narrower than other segments. Column erect, 6-7.5 x 2.5-3.7 mm, mauve; post-anther lobe cucullate, 2-4 x 1.5-2.5 mm, tubular, inflated, compressed dorsally, curved gently, dark reddish brown, apex shallowly bilobed, lobes toothed, orifice small, yellow; post-anther lobe extension 0.6-0.2 mm; auxiliary lobes absent; lateral lobes converging 1-1.5 mm long, digitiform, obliquely erect, each with a more or less terminal, dense, broom of mauve or pink cilia 1-1.5 mm long. Anther inserted near middle of column, ovoid, 2.5-3.5 x 1.2-2.2 mm, the connective prolonged into a 0.5-1.0 mm long beak. Stigma at base of column, 1.8-2.6 x 1.5-2.5 mm, ovate-quadrate. Capsules 12-20 x 4-6 mm, obovoid, erect, ribbed.
Thelymitra malvina has no close relatives in New Zealand. The tall stout but slender scape and mauve to slate blue flowers with mauve to pink mop-like cilia tufts on the lateral lobes are very distinctive. In New Zealand Thelymitra malvina usually has > 5 flowers per scape and these characteristically all open at the same time. Its nearest relative is the Australian endemic T. atronitida Jeanes from which it differs by the usually three rather than two sterile bracts, larger mostly insect-pollinated rather than autogamous flowers, dark reddish brown rather than glossy black post anther lobes, and mauve or pink rather than white lateral lobe cilia.
(September-) October (-November)
October - January
Not in cultivation. A strongly mycorrhizal species which should not be removed from the wild
Plant collectors are a constant problem because it is a conspicuous orchid with very attractive flowers. It is threatened at many sites by invasive weeds, changes to the local water table, and removal of swamp kauri logs for furniture making. However, it is also reasonably secure at several sites and indications are that it actively spreading in suitable habitats throughout Northland
thelymitra: Woman’s hat
Where To Buy
Not commercially available
Fact Sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 14 April 2007. Description subsequently published in Rolfe & de Lange (2010). See also Jeanes (2004).
References and further reading
Jeanes, J. 2004: A revision of the Thelymitra pauciflora R.Br. (Orchidaceae) complex in Australia. Muelleria 19: 19-79.
Rolfe, J.R.; de Lange, P.J. 2010: Illustrated guide to New Zealand sun orchids, Thelymitra (Orchidaceae). Jeremy Rolfe, Wellington.
NZPCN Fact Sheet citation
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Thelymitra malvina Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/thelymitra-malvina/ (Date website was queried)