Explore as a

Share our content

Helen Dalrymple

Teacher and amateur botanist (1883-1943)

“Miss Dalrymple is one of the most interesting companions in a country walk,” wrote the Otago Girls’ High School magazine upon the occasion of Helen Dalrymple’s retirement: “for at every step she finds something thrilling to investigate and it is almost impossible to escape the infection of her enthusiasm.”1

Helen Dalrymple taught at the school from 1913-1938, and during that time inspired future notable New Zealand botanists such as Ella Orr Campbell, kept the Dunedin Naturalists’ Field Club going when it otherwise would have faltered, wrote books on orchid and fungus hunting in Otago, and gave the first recorded reference of a new species of orchid. This was Drymoanthus flavus, which she described in her 1937 book Orchid hunting in Otago. When they found it a yard or two away from their group of school-girl campers while boiling the billy, she wrote the plant looked like "little green rosettes on the bare pinkish totara tree bark".2


1. ‘NZBotSoc No 65 Sept 2001’, accessed 25 August 2017, http://www.nzbotanicalsociety.org.nz/newsletter/NZBotSoc-2001-65.pdf.

2. B. P. J. Molloy and I.M. St George, ‘A New Species of Drymoanthus (Orchidaceae) from New Zealand, and Typification of D. Adversus’, New Zealand Journal of Botany 32, no. 4 (1994): 415–21.

This profile is part of the series 150 Women in 150 Words that celebrates women’s contributions to expanding knowledge in New Zealand, running as part of our 150th Anniversary.