Please help to conserve our native orchids
Conservation has many aspects and may not involve active management. Merely recording the presence of an orchid by noting the location and numbers, and perhaps photographing it helps with assessing its distribution and hence its rarity. Collecting details on where it is growing - its habitat- will aid in understanding why the plant is growing there and will contribute to a knowledge base for conservation cultivation. More importantly it may help in deciding on places where it can be successfully established either through transplanting or planting out from cultivation.
Before we make any intervention we need to consider why we need to do anything. Do we wish to enrich an area, such as an urban restoration project which may be too remote from natural seed sources? Is the plant at risk? Is it a threatened species? If it is threatened - why is it threatened? Limited natural distribution? Declining habitats? Pests? The answer to each question may result in a different action.
Active management in situ may involve weeding or perhaps pest control but may sometimes just involve physical protection. Bringing a species into cultivation may rarely be necessary and is usually carried out with the ultimate goal of increasing plant numbers. Collecting seed and germination is a skilled process. For many species we are just beginning to understand their particular requirements. Transplanting a few plants may be required to act as seed source nucleus but many species are known to be difficult to transplant for a host of known and unknown reasons and, therefore, transplanting species is best avoided.
For further information see St George I & McCrae 1990: New Zealand orchids: natural history and cultivation. Available as a PDF on request.
You can help by
- Not being tempted to dig them up to take home
The terrestrial species usually can’t be grown in cultivation without specialist knowledge. They will just die down, never to emerge again. It can be hard to resist the temptation… but please try.
- Not being tempted to pick the flowers
Each flower will set thousands of tiny pepper-like seeds… one less flower equals the potential loss of many plants. Anyway, the flowers wilt very quickly once picked.
- Reporting findings of any rare or uncommon species
Either let us know via this website, or notify your local DOC office. For a list of the threatened species please refer to the list below.
- Keep an eye out for anyone selling native orchids
Reputable Garden Centres don’t sell our native orchids… but occasionally some places do sell the common epiphytic species, although this is fairly rare nowadays. Keep an eye out for anyone advertising the terrestrial species for sale and report them to DOC immediately.
The New Zealand Native Orchid Group code of conduct
- Regard the orchid tuber as sacred and leave it undisturbed.
- Take only photographs if a plant is scarce in a locality. If you need a specimen for identification, take the minimum - don’t take the whole plant unless there are more than twenty; don’t take more than 5% of any one plant; don’t take flowers or fruit if there are few present; don’t take duplicates. It is illegal to take specimens of any native plant from a Protected Natural Area without official permission.
- Make sure you know whether it can be grown, and if so what its requirements are, before you take even a “common” native orchid for cultivation; where possible use seeds.
- Preserve the habitat of all native plants: tread with care to minimise compaction of soil and disturbance of swamp habitat; “garden” minimally before taking photographs and do replace shelter if you have bent surrounding vegetation away.
- Don’t introduce any plant into wild habitat without proper authority.
- Do tell the conservation people if you find a new site for a rare plant. Inform those who might unwittingly destroy a site with normal maintenance activities. Take care who you tell about the whereabouts of a rare plant, and don’t take big groups to visit.
- Tell park or property administrators when they need to protect orchid habitat by clearing scrub, maintaining tracks, spraying weeds or burning off.
- Respect the rights and wishes of landowners and those of conservation people who ask you not to visit a site at certain times.
- Make little impact on the environment; dispose of rubbish responsibly.
- Do not try to export any orchid or part of an orchid from New Zealand. It is illegal under international agreements to do so.
Threatened and uncommon New Zealand orchids
Based on de Lange et al. (2018) - Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2017. New Zealand Threat Classification Series 22. Department of Conservation, Wellington. 82 p.
- Caleana minor
- Calochilus herbaceus
- Corybas carsei
- Corybas dienemus
- Gastrodia cooperae
- Thelymitra matthewsii
- Thelymitra sanscilia
(2) At Risk
- Drymoanthus flavus
- Prasophyllum hectorii
- Pterostylis paludosa
- Pterostylis tanypoda
- Pterostylis tristis
- Spiranthes novae-zelandiae
- Bulbophyllum tuberculatum
- Caladenia alata
- Caladenia atradenia
- Caladenia minor
- Caladenia variegata
- Calochilus paludosus
- Calochilus robertsonii
- Corybas cryptanthus
- Corybas hypogaeus
- Corybas obscurus
- Corybas rivularis
- Danhatchia australis
- Genoplesium nudum
- Genoplesium pumilum
- Pterostylis auriculata
- Pterostylis cernua
- Pterostylis foliata
- Pterostylis humilis
- Pterostylis porrecta
- Pterostylis silvicultrix
- Thelymitra formosa
- Thelymitra ixioides
- Thelymitra tholiformis
- Townsonia deflexa
(3) Non-resident Native
(4) Data Deficient
- Caladenia bartlettii
- Corybas papillosus
- Corybas sanctigeorgianus
- Corybas sulcatus
- Microtis arenaria
- Theymitra brevifolia
- Thelymitra colensoi