Thelymitra pauciflora

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Slender sun orchid
Thelymitra pauciflora.jpg
T. pauciflora growing near Rokewood Junction, Victoria, Australia Australia.
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Orchidoideae
Tribe: Diurideae
Subtribe: Thelymitrinae
Genus: Thelymitra
T. pauciflora
Binomial name
Thelymitra pauciflora

Thelymitra pauciflora, commonly called the slender sun orchid[2] in Australia and maikaika or maika in New Zealand is a species of orchid in the family Orchidaceae. It is one of the most widespread and common orchid species in Australia, growing in all states except Western Australia and the Northern Territory, and also in New Zealand including Chatham Island.


Thelymitra pauciflora is a terrestrial, tuberous herb growing up to 60 cm high when in flower. It has a single erect, fleshy leaf, 30 cm long by 6 mm wide, ribbed on the outer side and channelled on the inner. The leaf is tinged with purple, especially near the base and often spotted with rust. The flower stem has up to twelve flowers but only two or three open at a time. Each flower is 1.5–2.0 cm across, dark blue, mauve or magenta in colour in New Zealand but pale blue, rarely pink or white in Australia. The top of the column is yellow and the column arms have a mop-like tuft of white or mauve hairs. The flowers generally open only in warm weather. In Australia, flowers mostly appear from August to January and in New Zealand from November to January.[2][3][4][5]

Taxonomy and naming[edit]

The species was first formally described by botanist Robert Brown in 1810 in Prodromus Florae Novae Hollandiae.[6] The specific epithet (pauciflora) is derived from Latin, paucus, "few" and flos, "flower".[7][8]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Thelymitra pauciflora occurs in the Australian Capital Territory and all states of Australia except Western Australia and Northern Territory. In Australia it grows in sclerophyll forest, woodland and heath.[5] It also occurs in New Zealand where it grows in open areas amongst scrub, clay banks, open grassland and from lowlands to low montane.[4]


  1. ^ "Thelymitra pauciflora". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  2. ^ a b Jones, David L. (2006). A complete guide to native orchids of Australia including the island territories. Frenchs Forest, N.S.W.: New Holland. p. 236. ISBN 1877069124.
  3. ^ Mayfield, Enid (2010). Flora of the Otway plains and ranges. Collingwood, Victoria: CSIRO Publishing. p. 187. ISBN 9780643098046. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Thelymitra pauciflora". New Zealand native orchid group. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  5. ^ a b Bernhardt, Peter. "Thelymitra pauciflora". Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  6. ^ "Thelymitra pauciflora R.Br". Australian Plant Name Index (APNI), IBIS database. Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Australian Government.
  7. ^ Allen J. Coombes The A to Z of Plant Names: A Quick Reference Guide to 4000 Garden Plants, p. 106, at Google Books
  8. ^ D. Gledhill The Names of Plants, p. 220, at Google Books

External links[edit]