Microtis parviflora


Microtis: tiny eared
parviflora: From the Latin parvus 'small, puny' and flores 'flowers', meaning small-flowered.

Common Name(s)

Onion-leaved orchid

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


Microtis parviflora 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. Kermadec, Three Kings, North and South Islands. In the North Island common to about the Waikato and Bay of Plenty scarce otherwise. In the South Island known from the Marlborough Sounds, north-west Nelson and the northern West Coast. Probably also in Australia.


Coastal to lowland. Favouring open clay pans, sand dune hollows, and other areas of exposed soil with little overhead vegetation. Common in gumland scrub, on the margins of peat bogs, in seral forest and within geothermal fields.


Terrestrial, glabrous, colony forming, fleshy, tuberous bright green to yellow-green perennial herb. Plants at flowering 100-400(-700) mm tall. Tubers globose to ovoid. Stem erect, terete. Leaf solitary, usually overtopping inflorescence, bright green to yellow-green, closely sheathing stem for much of length, linear-terete, hollow, 400 x 8 mm long. Inflorescence a raceme up to 300 x 10 mm. Flowers 10-80, up to 3 mm diameter, shortly-stalked and closely spaced, more or less overlapping. Perianth green to yellow-green, segments up to 2.2 mm long, widely spreading, thick and fleshy. Dorsal sepal 1.5-2.0 mm long, ovate, erect or projecting forwards, cucullate, concave, column-embracing, acute, apex shortly recurved, smaller than ovary at flowering; lateral sepals shorter and narrower, subacute, strongly deflexed, usually curled under. Petals shorter still, narrowly obtuse, erect, usually partially hidden under dorsal sepal. Labellum sessile, tongue-like, up to 2 mm long, green or yellow-green, more or less triangular-cordate, decurved but more less slightly projecting forwards, broader at base narrowing to an obtuse apex terminated by a down-turned apiculus; margin entire to sinuate (with marginal cells occasionally, slightly enlarged), smooth; anterior callus usually present, somewhat variable in size; basal calli prominent, dark green, ovate, paired and parallel, surrounding a distinct small pouched bulge on the under side of the labellum. Column short, obtuse, base of column wider than stigma, otherwise narrowing behind stigma, wings membranous throughout. Anther terminal, erect, situated above stigma, hemispherical, pollinia spheroidal, pollen granular. Stigma broadly ovate; rostellum ovate Capsules broadly ovoid, ovoid-ellipsoid, brown when ripe.

Similar Taxa

Easily distinguished from M. unifolia (G.Forst.) Reichb.f. and M. oligantha L.B.Moore by the more or less triangular labellum, which narrows abruptly to a down-turned apiculate tip, has a pouched base and an almost entire or smooth margin.


September - March

Flower Colours



December - May

Propagation Technique

Easily grown in a sunny position. Should not be removed from the wild. Often invades urban lawns inm palces adjacent to gum land scrub (such as in western Auckland).


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 44

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Not commercially available


New Zealand plants refered to M. parviflora are potentially distinct and may warrant separate taxonomic recognition. It is not clear if they are endemic, and at this stage NZPCN has assumed that they are not.


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

References and further reading

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

This page last updated on 21 Jan 2015