Gastrodia sesamoides


Gastrodia: belly tooth (flower centre)

Common Name(s)

Gastrodia, pot-bellied orchid, cinnamon sticks

Current Conservation Status

2012 - Not Threatened

Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2012 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2009 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, Paul D. Champion, Shannel P. Courtney, Peter B. Heenan, John W. Barkla, Ewen K. Cameron, David A. Norton and Rodney A. Hitchmough. File size: 792KB

Previous Conservation Status

2009 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened


Gastrodia sesamoides R.Br.



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

NVS Species Code


The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.

Structural Class





Indigenous. In New Zealand recorded from North and South Islands,. In the South Island is is only known from Marlborough and Nelson.


Coastal to montane (up to 1000 m as.l.). Favouring disturbed habitats, coastal wetlands and associated shrublands, gumland scrub, and open sites along forest margins or in secondary regrowth. Often found in plantation forestry, and also occasionally found in urban areas often in traffic islands or public plantings, where it seems to be associated with pine bark mulch.


Terrestrial, saprophytic, deciduous, fleshy, perennial herb lacking chlorophyll. Rhizome up to 80 x 30 mm, tuberous, elongated, swollen, mycorrhizal, pale pinkish-brown to brown to brownish-black, often covered in chartaceous scales and scale-leaves, especially toward the active apex. Plant at flowering up to 1 m tall. Stem 2-7 mm diameter, dark brown to brown with lighter brown coloured, small spots, erect, stout or slender, rather brittle when fresh. Scale leaves widely spaced, chartaceous. Flowers mostly less than 20, mostly unscented, sometimes faintly scented; pendulous such that dorsal sepal frequently touches the stem axis. Perianth 10-16 x 4-8 mm, basally light brownish or mustard, pinkish or pinkish cream toward apex, unspotted, smooth, rarely with a few small tubercules; lobes slightly thickened toward margins. Lateral sepals fused almost to level of labellum-tip. Labellum 10 x 4 mm, white, cream, or yellowish, membranous above, thickened below, somewhat irritable, completely enclosed within floral tube (apex just visible), ovate-oblong, trilobed, base shortly fused to gibbous perianth-tube, lateral-lobes with upturned, irregular, crenate, margins; mid-lobe yellowish with flat but irregular margins, bearing several long median, verrucose, cristate, pinkish-white or cream calli. Column almost as tall as labellum, very narrowly winged throughout; anther terminal, erect and bending forwards, short and broad, operculate, filament smooth, pollen breaking into angular granules; stigma basal, set well apart from and far below anther, broad, hollow; rostellum flap-like, positioned under anther.

Similar Taxa

Easily distinguished by its ecology - as this species frequents coastal wetlands and favours disturbed habitats such that it is often found in in locations completely over run by naturalised plants. Gastrodia sesamoides has paler, flowers than the other two New Zealand species, and they lack spots and have a mostly non-tuberculate, smooth surface. Of critical diagnostic importance is that the column is almost the same length at the labellum.


August - March

Flower Colours

Brown,Red / Pink


October - May

Propagation Technique

A saprophytic species which should not be removed from the wild. Difficult to grow.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 38-40

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Not Commercially Available

Cultural Use/Importance

New Zealand plants differ somewhat from Australian plants of G. sesamoides (from where it was first described) and they probably warrant formal separation at species rank. 


Description adapted from Moore and Edgar (1970)

References and further reading

NZPCN Key to Gastrodia prepared by Jeremy Rolfe (pdf, 1.2Mb)

Moore, L.B.; Edgar, E. 1970: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. II. Government Printer, Wellington.

This page last updated on 29 Dec 2015