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autumnalis: autumn flowering
Easter orchid, raupeka
Current Threat Status
2012 - Not Threatened
Previous Threat Status
2009 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened
Earina autumnalis (G.Forst.) Hook.f.
Vascular - Native
Epidendrum autumnale Forst.f.; Earina suaveolens Lindl.; Earina alba Col.
Endemic. North, South, and Stewart Islands
Coastal to montane. Epiphytic, rupestral or terrestrial. Mostly on the trunks and branches of forest trees but also on rocks, cliff faces, banks and fallen, moss covered logs.
Epiphytic or rupestral, rhizomatous, perennial, producing numerous leafy, unbranched, long persistent, wiry, cane-like stems up to 1.5 m long. Stems erect if short, pendulous otherwise. Rhizomes extensive, much intertwined and firmly attached to substrate, fleshy, more or less spongy, initially creamy white maturing grey-white, thickly covered with sheathing scale-leaves or their weathered, fibrous remains. Leaf-sheaths closely imbricating, persistent, distichously arranged, 5-14 mm long, 3-4 mm diameter, cylindric to tubular, deeply split, scarcely flattened, each overlapping with and covering the lower third to one half of the leaf-sheath above, exposed surface pale grey with dark margins, weakly and diffusely maculate or not, spots if present orbicular, purple-black. Leaf-sheath junction with leaf lamina distinctly flared. Leaves weakly flexuose usually down-curved in upper portion; lamina persistent, disarticulating at leaf-sheath junction, weakly 1-3-nerved, 40-120 x 5-8 mm, mostly dark glossy green, broadly lanceolate, widest near base, tapering in upper third gradually to broad, subacute tip; lateral veins inconspicuous, midrib of upper lamina deeply and prominently channelled. Inflorescence a racemose panicle. Panicle up to 100 mm long, mostly stiffly erect, rather wiry; racemes numerous, arranged distichously at short intervals up the stiff central axis, each lateral stem to 10 mm long, usually bearing a few crowded, empty bracts and up to 3 sessile flowers. Perianth 13-16 mm diameter, opening widely (flaring), waxy white. Sepals elliptic, slightly keeled subacute. Petals slightly broader and more obtuse. Labellum broad and obtuse, white except for yellow base, standing erect and half enclosing the column, transversely rhomboid, not lobed; distal margins slightly thickened and recurved; base with two crescent-shaped ridges leading down to a small bright yellow or yellow-orange pit-like nectary. Column shorter than labellum, broadest at base, wings minute, present as small lobes about level with the stigma, pollinia clavate. Capsules elliptic-ovoid, ovoid, deeply, longitudinally grooved, dark green maturing grey.
Easily distinguished from Earina aestivalis Cheeseman and E. mucronata Lindl. by the virtually unspotted, more or less cylindric leaf-sheath; usually dark green leaves, stiffly erect inflorescences, and strongly pleasantly perfumed, consistently white flowers with broad yellow-based labella.
January - June
Main Flower Colour
Other Flower Colour
April - August
Easily grown in a hanging basket in standard orchid mix. Often can be strapped to a tree trunk and provided it is kept moist during the drier months it grows readily. This species does best in semi-shade. The strongly perfumed flowers are especially attractive. Should not be removed from the wild.
2n = 40
Where To Buy
Occasionally available from specialist native plant nurseries.
References and further reading
Moore, L.B.; Edgar, E. 1970: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. II. Government Printer, Wellington.
Thorsen, M. J.; Dickinson, K. J. M.; Seddon, P. J. 2009. Seed dispersal systems in the New Zealand flora. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 11: 285-309
This page last updated on 29 Jan 2015