Prasophyllum hectorii


Prasophyllum: From the Greek 'prasos' leek and phyllos 'leaf'
hectorii: Named after Sir James Hector, 19th century New Zealand geologist and botanist who was originally from Scotland

Common Name(s)

swamp leek orchid

Current Conservation Status

2012 - At Risk - Declining

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 - At Risk - Relict
2004 - Threatened - Nationally Vulnerable


2012 - PD
2009 - CD, EF


Prasophyllum hectorii (Buchanan) Molloy, D.L.Jones et M.A.Clem.



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

Structural Class



Gastrodia hectorii Buchanan


Endemic. North and Chatham Islands. Formerly known in the North Island from Te Paki south to near Waiouru, and from one site on the main Chatham Island. Current records exist for Te Paki, the Waikato and Central Volcanic Plateau.


Coastal to subalpine, in wetlands (0-1100m a.s.l.), and associated slow flowing streams. Usually found partially submerged in or at the margins of pools and streams, where the plants tubers may be seen floating just above the sediment. It is often associated with the sedge genera Baumea and Eleocharis (Cyperaceae) where it easily overlooked unless flowering.


Stout orchid of wetlands. Plants sweetly scented, 0.15-1 m tall at flowering, Tuber ovoid usually paired with previous seasons tuber, roots few, stout, peg-like. Stem erect, fleshy, terete, dark green. Leaf solitary, usually overtopping raceme; lamina yellow-green to dark green, fleshy, terete, apex acute. Inflorescence a few to many flowered raceme. Flowers more or less evenly spaced, 10-80-flowered, fleshy-succulent. Perianth yellow, yellow-green to green. Dorsal sepal 6-8 mm, broad-ovate, concave; laterals somewhat longer, narrow-oblong, free to base, margins thin, apex often hooded, sometimes appearing bidentate. Petals slightly shorter, thinner. Labellum yellow, white or black, prominent, narrowed at base to a short, stout claw, ovate, sharply bent at a right angle halfway from base; margin undulate; callus confined to proximal tip. Lateral processes of column oblong, falcate, as tall as rostellum. Anther sessile, overtopped by rostellum. Stigma prominent.

Similar Taxa

A distinctive species with a very specific habitat requirement, such that it rarely grows with other orchid species. It could be confused with some forms of Prasophyllum colensoi Hook.f. that sometimes grow in wetlands but these are usually much shorter plants, with fewer reddish coloured flowers. The callus of the labellum in P. colensoi extends the whole length, almost to the apex, whereas that of P. hectorii is confined to the proximal part.


(November -) December - February

Flower Colours



November - May

Propagation Technique

Difficult. Should not be removed from the wild


This species has declined from most of its former coastal and lowland wetland haunts as a consequence of drainage, competition from weeds and on occasion excessive collection by botanists and plant collectors. Drainage is still the main threat to the majority of its remaining populations, several large ones of which are entirely on private land. Invasive weeds, particularly royal fern (Osmunda regalis) are a problem in the Waikato. Previously recorded as Prasophyllum aff. patens (AK 236408; New Zealand) by de Lange et al. (2004).

Chromosome No.

2n = 42

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Not commercially available


Until recently Prasophyllum hectorii has been known in New Zealand as P. patens R.Br. which is an Australian endemic. New Zealand plants have also been referred to P. suttonii Rogers et B.Rees, another Australian endemic.

Recent molecular and morphological studies, as yet unpublished suggest that the two New Zealand Prasophyllum will need placing in another, as yet undescribed new genus (Peter Weston pers. comm. November 2014)


Fact Sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 14 April 2007. Description adapted from Moore and Edgar (1970).

References and further reading

de Lange, P.J.; Norton, D.A.; Heenan, P.B.; Courtney, S.P.; Molloy, B.P.J.; Ogle, C.C.; Rance, B.D.; Johnson, P.N.; Hitchmough, R. 2004: Threatened and uncommon plants of New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Botany 42: 45-76.

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

This page last updated on 9 Dec 2014