From - Plant Encyclopedia and Gardening wiki
Jump to: navigation, search
 Thelymitra subsp. var.  Sun orchid
Salmon Sun orchid (Thelymitra rubra)
Habit: orchid
Height: to
Width: to
Height: warning.png"" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. to warning.png"" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.
Width: warning.png"" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. to warning.png"" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.
Features: flowers
Hidden fields, interally pass variables to right place
Minimum Temp: °Fwarning.png"°F" is not a number.
USDA Zones: to
Sunset Zones:
Flower features:
Orchidaceae > Thelymitra var. ,

If this plant info box on watering; zones; height; etc. is mostly empty you can click on the edit tab and fill in the blanks!

Thelymitra is a genus of orchids known as 'sun orchids' in reference to their habit of only opening in warm weather.

They are about 100 species distributed in higher rainfall areas across Australia (with 50 or so species), New Zealand (10+ endemic species), New Caledonia (2), Timor, Java, and the Philippines.

The type species is Thelymitra longifolia J.& G. Forst. 1775 from the South Island of New Zealand. 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. It is elongated or linear-lanceolate and glabrous. The Custard Orchid (T. villosa) is the only species with a hairy leaf. The leaves of T. spiralis and T. variegata are spirally twisted.

The flower stalk is usually a bluish-green colour. The flower stem usually carries 4 to 10 flowers (even up to 20 flowers in the Plain Sun Orchid, T. holmesii), often opening all at once, though some species have only one flower each year. The flower size is between 1 and 6 cm. These flowers only open in bright sunlight (in combination with warmth and humidity), close at night and during cold or cloudy weather.

Sun orchids exhibit a particular characteristic : their lip shows, except in a few species such as T. variegata, almost the same shape, colour, colour pattern or size as the other petals and sepals. This gives a symmetrical shape to the perianth. Furthermore the lip lacks ornamentation. In other orchid genera, the lip has a distinctive shape and colour. The particular shape and color of the sun orchids mimics the flowers of lily family (Liliaceae) and the family Goodeniaceae, aiming by deceit for the same insect pollinators. The Slender Sun Orchid (T.pauciflora) only opens for a short time (or not at all) and is self-pollinating. This self-pollination is a successful strategy followed by several other species such as and T. circumsepta, T. graminea, T. holmesii and T. mucida.

Once the weather dries out the leaf shrivels away and the orchid lies as a single spherical tuber.

Sun orchids come in most colours, including purple, deep blue (T. pauciflora), white, pink, magenta, maroon, yellow (T. antennifera) and red (T. x macmillanii). Most are a single colour or have spots, a few have stronger variation and are multi-coloured. The deep blue colour, found in about 75% of the sun orchids, is of a rare kind, found only in 5 other orchid genera.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Thelymitra (Greek, woman and cap, alluding to the hood-shaped column). Orchidaceae. Terrestrial herbs with ovoid tubers, occasionally grown in the greenhouse. Lf. solitary, usually with a rather long sheath, linear, lanceolate or rarely nearly ovate: fls. usually several in a terminal raceme, sometimes reduced to 1 or 2, blue, purple, red, or yellow, occasionally with white varieties; sepals and petals nearly equal, spreading; labellum similar; column erect, broadly winged, the wings variable, sometimes extended into a broad lobed hood over the anther, lateral lobes often penicillate or crested: caps. erect, obovoid or oblong, beakless. About 30 species, Austral., New Zeal., New Caledonia, and Malaya. Cult. similar to that of bletia. None of the species is in common cult., but a number of them are of interest to orchid fanciers.

T. carnea, R. Br. St. slender, often flexuous, 6-12 in. high: lvs. narrow-linear: fls. 1-3, pink, sepals and petals oval-elliptic, oblong or obtuse, about 4 lines long. Austral.—T. ixioides, Sw. St. usually more than 1 ft. high: lvs. long-linear or linear-lanceolate, flat or channeled, with 1 or 2 shorter ones: fls. blue, pedicellate, usually forming a raceme 4-6 in. long: sepals, petals, and lip elliptic-oblong, 9-10 lines long. Austral.—T. longifolia, Forst. (T. Forsteri, Sw., T. graminea, Lindl. T. pauciflora, R. Br.). Usually about 1 ft. high: lvs. long and narrow: fls. blue, lilac, or pink, rather large, several to a raceme, column produced into a broad hood, usually conspicuous from its dark color. Austral.—T. variegata, Lindl. St. not very stout, 1 ft. or more high: lvs. with a villous sheath, blade linear, glabrous, with a much dilated base: fls. 2-4, purple, large; sepals and petals lanceolate, shortly acuminate or acute, 3/4 - 1 in. long, variegated. Austral.—T. venosa, R. Br. St. 1-2 ft. high: lvs. long and narrow: fls. blue, 6-10; sepals and petals 1/2 – 3/4 in. long; column broadly winged. Austral. CH

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.


Do you have cultivation info on this plant? Edit this section!


Do you have propagation info on this plant? Edit this section!

Pests and diseases

Do you have pest and disease info on this plant? Edit this section!


Several Thelymitra species :2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9


Natural hybrids

  • Thelymitra × chasmogama R.S.Rogers 1927 (T. luteocilium × T. nuda)
  • Thelymitra × mackibbinii F.Muell. 1881 (T. × macmillanii × T. nuda)
  • Thelymitra × macmillanii F.Muell. 1865 (T. antennifera × T. luteocilium)
  • Thelymitra × truncata R.S.Rogers 1917

Intergeneric hybrid

  • xCalomitra (Calochilus x Thelymitra) (unplaced name)


If you have a photo of this plant, please upload it! Plus, there may be other photos available for you to add.


External links

blog comments powered by Disqus
Personal tools
Bookmark and Share