Townsonia viridis sensu Schltr. nom. inv., New Zealand plants had been referred to Acianthus viridis Hook.f. which is now regarded as an Australian endemic Townsonia viridis (Hook.f.) Schltr.
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 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) – 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.
Please note, threat classifications are often suggested by authors when publications fall between NZTCS assessment periods – an interim threat classification status has not been assessed by the NZTCS panel.
- Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2017 . 2018. 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. Department of Conservation. Source: NZTCS and licensed by DOC for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence.
2017 | At Risk – Naturally Uncommon | Qualifiers: DP, Sp
Previous conservation statuses
2012 | At Risk – Naturally Uncommon | Qualifiers: Sp
2009 | At Risk – Naturally Uncommon
2004 | Sparse
Endemic. New Zealand: North Island, South Island, Stewart Island/Rakiura, Auckland Islands and Campbell Island/Motu Ihupuku.
Lowland to upper montane and subalpine habitats (confined to upper montane and subalpine in northern part of range). A small, easily overlooked orchid favouring mossy logs and deep moss patches where it forms small diffuse colonies. It is often (though not exclusively, e.g., Stewart Island/Rakiura) associated with Nothofagaceae forests.
Dark green to bright green slender 50–150 mm orchid, spreading though mossy patches and leaf litter usually in forest. Stem erect, very slender almost translucent. Cauline leaf confined to flowering plants, this 10 mm long, green, orbicular to oblong, apiculate, sessile, usually positioned at mid section of stem. Leaf of sterile and flowering plants distinctly petiolate, arising from horizontal rhizomes near to or remote from flowering stems; lamina 10 mm long, orbicular to broadly ovate, obtuse to apiculate, rounded or subcordate at base, margin more or less finely crenate. Inflorescence a 10–20 mm long raceme; 1–4-flowered. Floral bracts small, membranous, translucent. Perianth 5 mm long, horizontal and deflexed, greenish. Sepals with thick rounded keels and mor eor less involute margins; dorsal sepal broad, subacute; lateral sepals slightly longer, minutely cucullate. Petals very much shorter, oblong, erect. Labellum shorter than sepals, broad-ovate, partly embracing column; apex more or less obtse, recurved; proximal part concave, marked by median triangular thickening and 2 low longitudinal ridges of basal calli. Column shorter than labellum; wings broad throughout, sharply truncate or almost toothed above. Anther partly hidden behind very prominent stigma.
Manaaki Whenua Online Interactive Key
A very distinctive species which is very unlikely to be confused with any other New Zealand orchid species. It is perhaps most similar in flower shape and general structure to Acianthus sinclairii Hook.f. but that speces has a single, sessile, ovate, acuminate, green leaf with strongly cordate bases (hence its vernacular: heart-leaved orchid) and the larger flowers have sepals ending in solid tail-like appendages (cauda), and an unwinged column. The flowers of Acianthus sinclairii tend to be more red-green, with a larger hooded somewhat translucent, red-spotted dorsal sepal, and larger green, red-rimmed labellum, in contrast to the relatively inconspicuous, fairly uniformly bright green somewhat hyaline translucent flowers of Townsonia deflexa (note that the basal portion of the labellum in Townsonia is often blotched maroon).
Difficult—should not be removed from the wild.
An apparently naturally uncommon, biologically sparse species that does not seem to have ever been subject to any significant decline. However, some of its northern South Island, West Coast habitats are threatened by coal mining.
deflexa: Bent sharply downwards
Where To Buy
Not commercially available
Townsonia has had a vexed history being various treated as Acianthus viridis, Townsonia viridis or the New Zealand endemic T. deflexa. Based on a mostly unpublished molecular (nrITS based study) and limited chromosomal evidence Townsonia was reinstated as a genus distinct from Acianthus (B.P.J. Molloy pers. comm.) and a study of the Australian and New Zealand Orchidaceae has upheld this (P. Weston pers. comm. November 2014). However, further work is needed to determine whether T. deflexa is truly distinct from the Tasmanian T. viridis—for now it is accepted as such.
Fact Sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 14 April 2007: Description adapted from Moore and Edgar (1970).
References and further reading
Moore LB, Edgar E. 1970. Flora of New Zealand, Volume II. Indigenous Tracheophyta: Monocotyledones except Gramineae. Government Printer, Wellington, NZ. 354 p.
NZPCN Fact Sheet citation
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Townsonia deflexa Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/townsonia-deflexa/ (Date website was queried)