Thelymitra: woman's hat
hybrid sun orchid
Current Threat Status
2012 - Not Threatened
Previous Threat Status
2009 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened
Thelymitra xdentata L.B.Moore
Vascular - Native
None (first described as species in 1969, shown to be a hybrid in 1998).
Endemic. North and South Islands: sporadic in the North Island from the Waikato to Wellington; and in the South along portions of the West Coast. Uncommon.
Coastal to montane areas (up to 800 m a.s.l.). In open shrubland, gumland vegetation, peat bogs and along ridge lines in mature forest. Always found in the vicinity of T. longifolia J.R.Forst. et G.Forst. and T. pulchella Hook.f. - the parents of this sporadically occurring hybrid.
Robust terrestrial, tuberous, glabrous, spring to summer-green perennial herb, solitary or growing in small colonies of 4-10 plants arising through vegetative extension. Plants at flower up to 600 mm tall. Stem robust, fleshy, erect 2.5-4.8 mm diameter. Leaf firmly fleshy to subcoriaceous, rather thick, erect to suberect, 80-200 x 10-20 mm, shallowly channelled. Inflorescence a (1-)6-flowered raceme. Flower 10-15 mm diameter, segments usually blue, lavender or pink, petals, labellum and dorsal sepals prominently striped with dark blue. Sepals and petals subsimilar, broad, slightly obovate. Labellum oblong-obovate. Column erect 6.5-8.0 mm tall, blue, lavender or pink; post-anther lobe taller than anther, slightly or prominently cucullate, and usually tuberculate towards apex, basal portion to mid section dark red grading to yellow toward apex; column-arms thickened about nerve, flanged about the base with delicate pinkish lobes, teeth or fimbriae, that mostly extend down the front margin of the column-wing; the arms bent inwards such that the cilia meet just above anther apex; cilia copious, in globose clusters, initially pale yellow maturing brown with age.
Most like Thelymitra pulchella Hook.f. one of its parents, from which it differs by the inconspicuous rather than obvious, column-arm teeth that extend more or less down the front margin of the column-arm wing rather than elongate into branched fimbriae; and by the consistent presence of globose masses of yellow cilia. In T. pulchella the column arms may or may not be ciliate, and the yellow cilia are always sparse. Unlike T. pulchella whose post-anther lobe rarely extended above the anther, T. xdentata has a prominent, hooded post-anther lobe that is consistently taller than the anther. Thelymitra xdentata is distinguished from other indigenous Thelymitra with striped flowers, by its failure to produce capsules following flowering because it is completely sterile.
November - January
Main Flower Colour
Other Flower Colour
Red / Pink
Seed not produced (sterile hybrid)
Very easily grown in a sunny, well drained site. It can only be grown by vegetative means as it is sterile. Although easily cultivated, like all orchids it should not be removed from the wild.
Not Threatened. A sterile hybrid which is listed here only because in the New Zealand Flora Series (Flora Vol. 2, Moore & Edgar 1970) it was regarded as a species. Further it is likely to be found wherever its parent species are sympatric, and so cause confusion unless a description is provided.
Where To Buy
Not commercially available.
References and further reading
Moore, L.B.; Edgar, E. 1970: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. II. Government Printer, Wellington.
This page last updated on 31 Jul 2014