T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Thelymitra longifolia

Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Orchidoideae
Tribe: Diurideae
Subtribe: Thelymitrinae
Genus: Thelymitra
Species: Thelymitra longifolia
Common name: Sun Orchid ,Maikuku

The scientific name Thelymitra was given by J. R. and G. Forster, botanists on Captain Cook's second voyage. The genus name is derived from the Greek words thely (woman) and mitra (mitre hat), referring to elaborate shape of the staminodal (staminode = sterile stamen) structure at the top of the column, called a mitra.
These terrestrial orchids are only above ground during spring and early summer, usually with a single leaf, growing up from two underground tubers. They have a single green to reddish-brown leaf, often spotted with rust. Mature plants have broad, ribbed and strap-like leaves which lie flat on the ground. Younger plants have more erect concave leaves. Up to 50cm tall when in flower. Often grows in clumps of numerous plants.

It has up to to 20 flowers in October - January.. 1 - 1.5 cm across. They are white but sometimes pink. Top of column usually rounded. Column arms have short, dense, tangled cilia which are pressed tightly against the column. Found in sunny places in open areas on banks and among open areas in scrub.

Just opening late November.






Photographed August