Species Profile and Threats Database

For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Endangered as Prasophyllum affine
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, included on the Commenced List (1/11/2009).
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans National Recovery Plan for the Jervis Bay Leek Orchid (Prasophyllum affine) (NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, 2011) [Recovery Plan] as Prasophyllum affine.
Policy Statements and Guidelines Draft survey guidelines for Australia's threatened orchids (Department of the Environment, 2013b) [Admin Guideline].
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Declaration under s178, s181, and s183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of threatened species, List of threatened ecological communities and List of threatening processes (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000) [Legislative Instrument] as Prasophyllum affine.
State Government
    Documents and Websites
NSW:Jervis Bay Leek Orchid - profile (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2005ox) [Internet].
NSW:Threatened Species Information - Prasophyllum affine (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS), 1999ac) [Information Sheet].
State Listing Status
NSW: Listed as Endangered (Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (New South Wales): August 2014 list) as Prasophyllum affine
Scientific name Prasophyllum affine [2210]
Family Orchidaceae:Orchidales:Liliopsida:Magnoliophyta:Plantae
Species author Lindley
Infraspecies author  
Reference The Genera and Species of Orchidaceous Plants: 516 (1840)
Other names Prasophyllum appendiculatum [41498]
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images

Scientific name: Prasophyllum affine

Common name: Jervis Bay Leek Orchid

The Jervis Bay Leek Orchid is a slender herb usually growing 30–50 cm tall. Each plant produces a single, hollow, cylindrical leaf resembling the young leaf of an onion or leek. The upper part of the leaf usually withers at flowering (NSW DECCW 2010i).

The flowering spike usually grows to 40 cm tall with up to 35 flowers in a long, crowded spike. The flower spike emerges from the leaf at approximately three quarters of the height of the leaf above the ground (NSW DECCW 2010i).

The flowers are 7–9 mm wide, pale green, pink, brownish or purplish, and lightly scented. Shiny green, obovoid capsules to 4 mm long are produced after flowering. These mature and dry about six weeks later, splitting to release fine, dust-like seeds. Flower colour is variable, both within and between sites, with plants in some populations having predominantly pale green to yellowish flowers, whilst in other populations they are predominantly brownish green to purple (NSW DECCW 2010i).

The type locality for the Jervis Bay Leek Orchid was found at Port Jackson, NSW (between South Head and Botany Bay) in 1803, but no further collections have been obtained from that area (NSW DECCW 2010i).

The species is currently known from three locations: Kinghorne Point; Wowly Gully near the town of Callala Bay; and Vincentia. The three locations are situated around the western and northern parts of Jervis Bay, south-east of Nowra on the NSW south coast, and have a total geographic range of approximately 15 km (NSW DECCW 2010i).

Extent of occurrence and area of occupancy

The current extent of occurrence is 808 ha (NSW DECCW 2010i). The area of occupancy is estimated to be 10 ha. The measure was calculated using the known subpopulation locations and the areas summed to give the area of occupancy (NSW DECCW 2010i).


The species' distribution is fragmented, partially due to the natural rarity of the species, and due to habitat loss or modification. Development has resulted in a significant loss of habitat, particularly in the Vincentia area (NSW DECCW 2010i).

Within any of the three populations, cross-pollination could occur, but pollination is unlikely between populations as the distances are too great. Seed dispersal between populations is theoretically possible, but unlikely. Effectively, each of the populations is genetically isolated (NSW DECCW 2010i).

Targeted surveys of potentially suitable habitat

Extensive surveys were conducted in 2001 and 2003 (NSW DECCW 2010i), covering a large proportion of the potential habitat within Jervis Bay, including both the Beecroft Peninsula and Booderee National Park (NP). Potential habitat as far north as Maddens Plains and as far south as Cadmirrah NP, south of Sussex Inlet, was also surveyed. These surveys included mapping of habitat occupied and conducting detailed counts of the number of plants. No additional populations were discovered (NSW DECCW 2010i).

Targeted surveys

Detailed Jervis Bay Leek Orchid population counts were undertaken by Shoalhaven City Council (SCC) and private consultants in 2000 at the proposed Vincentia District Centre site and the Kinghorne Point site (NSW DECCW 2010i).

Surveys were undertaken at Worrowing Heights in potential habitat, no plants were found (BES 2007).

Monitoring of the Vincentia District Centre site population was undertaken in 2002–2005 (GHD 2006a). Findings included annual variability in the spatial and temporal distribution of flowering, which supports the need for long term monitoring at sites (GHD 2006a).

The Jervis Bay Leek Orchid total population size was estimated at about 1146 individuals in 2001. Subsequently, the only counts have been in permanent monitoring plots established in 2001 (NSW DECCW 2010i). The three known populations had the following abundance estimates in 2001 (NSW DECCW 2010i):

  • Kinghorne Point: 775
  • Vincentia: 302
  • Wowly Gully: 69.

Almost all of the plants at Kinghorne Point occur on freehold land, with 12 plants found in Jervis Bay NP. At Vincentia all the populations occur on freehold land, and at Wowly Gully some plants occur in Jervis Bay NP (NSW DECCW 2010i).

Population decline

Since 2001, there was a significant decline in the number of plants found in the permanent monitoring plots, although numbers have been found to fluctuate considerably over time. In 2001, 138 flowering plants were found in the monitoring plots, but only 34 flowering plants were found in 2008 and 18 in 2009. The decline may be related to a series of dry years between 2001 and 2009 (NSW DECCW 2010i).

The Jervis Bay Leek Orchid population in Wowly Gully and part of the Kinghorne Point population occur in Jervis Bay NP (NSW DECCW 2010i). One source indicates that there are at least 12 plants in the Reserve (NSW DECCW 2010i) and another indicates that there are 81 (Stephenson 2005). There is regular monitoring of reserved populations, and the habitat is in good condition. A plan of management and fire management strategy for Jervis Bay NP are in preparation (NSW DECCW 2010i).

The Jervis Bay Leek Orchid occurs on poorly drained grey-brown clay soils that support low grassy heathland and sedgeland communities, often in a mosaic with clumps of a mallee form of Red Bloodwood (Corymbia gummifera) (NSW DECCW 2010i). Associated species that occur at most sites include (NSW DECCW 2010i):

  • Black Sheoak (Allocasuarina paludosa), Broad-leaved Hakea (Hakea dactyloides), Dagger Hakea (H. teretifolia), Thyme Honey-myrtle (Melaleuca thymifolia), Silky Purple Flag (Patersonia sericea) (these species represent trees)
  • Hairpin Banksia (Banksia ericifolia), Coast Banksia (B. paludosa), Matchheads (Comesperma ericinum), Mountain Devil (Lambertia formosa), Drumsticks (Isopogon anemonifolia), Broad leaved Geebung (Persoonia levis), Rice flower (Pimelea linifolia) (these species represent shrubs)
  • Milk Maids (Burchardia umbellata), Devils Twine (Cassytha glabella), Eyebright (Euphrasia collina), Guinea Flower (Hibbertia riparia), Fish Bones (Lomandra obliqua), Kangaroo Grass (Themeda australis) (these species represent groundcover).

Surveys (2001 and 2003) have found that the low drier heath/sedge habitat suitable for the Jervis Bay Leek Orchid is extremely restricted in distribution and extent (NSW DECCW 2010i).

The Jervis Bay Leek Orchid produces a leaf by mid-winter (with leaves up to 15 cm long already produced by some plants by the beginning of June). Mature leaves can be up to 50 cm long and remain until after the flower spike emerges from near the leaf apex in late October/early November. At or soon after flowering, the leaf tip usually withers, but the base remains green until the seed capsules mature in late December. The dust-like seed is wind dispersed (NSW DECCW 2010i). Little is known about the fertility or longevity of the Jervis Bay Leek Orchid (NSW DECCW 2010i).


Annual monitoring conducted by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), since 2001, has confirmed that the flowering period consistently occurs from early to mid-November, and has also identified that the Kinghorne Point population often begins flowering a week earlier than the Vincentia population (NSW DECCW 2010i).


Bower (2002) found that the pollinators of the Jervis Bay Leek Orchid were a variety of wasps and ants (Hymenoptera) from five families/subfamilies. The most important group were the Flower Wasps (Thynninae), which were common pollinators at both the Vincentia District Centre (Neozeleboria sp.) and Kinghorne Point (Lophocheilus anilitatus) sites (Bower 2002).


Jervis Bay Leek Orchid surveys need to be conducted in mid-November, when plants flower. Plants flower for about a month provided they are not pollinated and the weather remains cool. If a flower is pollinated, it will close within about 24 hours. A period of hot weather may result in the plants withering (NSW DECCW 2010i). Without flowers the plants are almost indistinguishable from grasses, and cannot be reliably identified as the leaves are very similar to the orchid genus Microtis (NSW DECCW 2010i).


If an area is to be surveyed, parallel transects should be placed no more than 10 metres apart. Greater distances between transects will fail to appropriately survey the site (NSW DECCW 2010i).

Similar species

The Jervis Bay Leek Orchid is similar to Maroon Leek-orchid (Prasophyllum frenchii) and P. litorale (NSW NPWS 1999ac). The two species can be distinguished from the Jervis Bay Leek Orchid by their callus plate which ceases well before the labellum apex. The Jervis Bay Leek Orchid is also similar to Maroon Leek-orchid which is confined to the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury Sandstone. The Maroon Leek-orchid can be distinguished by its thinner-textured and less crowded flowers (Bishop 1996).

Urban development

Habitat loss

At Vincentia, a District Centre and residential lots was approved for construction by the NSW Department of Planning and the Commonwealth Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (EPBC Referral 2007). Although there is no evidence that Jervis Bay Leek Orchid individuals were lost, the development would result in the population of the species being surrounded on three sides by built environment (EPBC Referral 2007). Approval was granted given a requirement to protect the Jervis Bay Leek Orchid populations and areas of pollinator habitat which includes Eucalyptus and Leptospermum flowers, upon which, the wasps mainly feed on (NSW DECCW 2010i).

The other population at Vincentia (Wirrilliko Road site) is on private land that has been the subject of a development application for the establishment of a school. Development consent has been granted by the Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority, but the approval requires the protection of habitat supporting the known population of the Jervis Bay Leek Orchid (NSW DECCW 2010i).

Habitat degradation

Approved development activity can result in increased public use of areas, increased risk of weed invasion, incidental damage of plants and trampling by humans (NSW DECCW 2010i). Fostering of strong community support for conservation is one option for abating habitat degradation (NSW DECCW 2010i).

Vehicle damage

At Kinghorne Point, part of the population occurs along a road easement that is used by vehicles to access the beach at Kinghorne Point. Until 2001, this track was in very poor condition and the vegetated verges, where the Jervis Bay Leek Orchid occurs, were being rapidly destroyed by vehicle traffic driving off the main track to avoid deep potholes. In 2002, SCC repaired the track and erected fences parallel to the track to restrict traffic to the designated pavement. The fence is currently in disrepair and the track is deteriorating and there is a risk that traffic could again damage the track verge habitat if maintenance work is not undertaken (NSW DECCW 2010i).

Rubbish dumping

There have been a number of instances of soil, rubble and garden waste being dumped along road verges. Due to the proximity of the Jervis Bay Leek Orchid sites to several coastal towns, dumping of rubbish on public land is likely to be an ongoing issue (NSW DECCW 2010i).


Most of the population at Kinghorne Point is on freehold land zoned for environmental protection (although existing use rights operate). In the past this area was subject to low levels of stock grazing, but in recent years stock grazing has been removed by the landowner to assist in the protection of the Jervis Bay Leek Orchid. Provided grazing levels are not increased and the area is not fertilised or pasture improved, then the population of the Jervis Bay Leek Orchid on this land can be expected to persist. Until 1998, parts of the habitat at Kinghorne Point, where the orchid occurs, had also been periodically slashed, but in recent years the landowner has also ceased slashing to avoid any potential negative impact on the species (NSW DECCW 2010i).


The Jervis Bay Leek Orchid declined significantly in response to a series of dry years in 2001–2009. It is possible that a more prolonged dry period could result in the extinction of populations at some, if not all, sites. However, a change in these dry conditions, with large amounts of rain in late 2010 and early 2011, may aid the Jervis Bay Leek Orchid's survival (NSW DECCW 2010i).

Threat abatement actions for the Jervis Bay Leek Orchid include:

1. Surveillance monitoring of all known populations

Those populations not subject to detailed annual monitoring under Action 2 should be inspected annually to detect obvious new threats or increased levels of threat. Counts of all flowering individuals should be undertaken at these sites every three or four years to provide data on population size trends across all sites. These counts can be compared with the annual counts obtained from the monitoring plots to determine whether changes in population size are likely to be due to seasonal conditions or other factors (NSW DECCW 2010i).

2. Annual measurement of permanent monitoring plots

Seven permanent monitoring plots were established by OEH in November 2001 at the proposed Vincentia District Centre site at Vincentia and on the private land site at Kinghorne Point. These plots were established to monitor the life history of all individuals of the Jervis Bay Leek Orchid found on the plots over time. An annual monitoring program at these plots, during the flowering season in November, will be undertaken to assist in the understanding of the population dynamics of the species, including the extent of year to year variation in the size of the observable population and the area of habitat occupied (NSW DECCW 2010i).

3. Ensure that management activities in Jervis Bay NP do not adversely affect populations

The location, habitat and protection requirements for the Jervis Bay Leek Orchid will be incorporated into the relevant OEH planning documents. These will be included to ensure that track construction, fire suppression activities or any other management actions do not impact on the individuals present (NSW DECCW 2010i).

4. Maintenance of track, fences and erection of signage at Kinghorne Point

The access track to Kinghorne Point should be maintained to a sufficient standard to prevent traffic deviation from the designated pavement. The internal fences adjacent to the road pavement, that were erected to keep traffic to the designated alignment, should be maintained in good repair. The road is owned by SCC. OEH will liaise with SCC in regard to its maintenance (NSW DECCW 2010i).

Appropriate signage should be erected by SCC, along the Kinghorne Point access track, alerting the public to the conservation importance of the roadside vegetation and prohibiting the dumping of waste in the area (NSW DECCW 2010i).

5. Negotiate with landowners for the long-term formal protection of sites

The long-term security of the Jervis Bay Leek Orchid sites is an important goal in the protection of this species. The privately owned sites at Vincentia (District Centre, residential and Wirrilliko Road school) have now been formally protected in offset areas as part of the conditions of consent by the relevant approval authorities for proposed developments on adjoining land (NSW DECCW 2010i).

Negotiations with the owner of the Kinghorne Point aim to develop formal protection for this site that includes a significant portion of the species. Options for formal protection of privately owned sites include Voluntary Conservation Agreements (OEH) and Property Management Plans (NSW DECCW 2010i).

Management documents for the Jervis Bay Leek Orchid include:

  • Draft National Recovery Plan for the Jervis Bay Leek Orchid (NSW DECCW 2010i).

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Livestock Farming and Grazing:Grazing pressures and associated habitat changes Prasophyllum affine in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006sb) [Internet].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Sea level rise:Inundation associated with climate change Inundation study (Environmental Resources Information Network, 2007) [Database].
Residential and Commercial Development:Housing and Urban Areas:Habitat loss, modification and fragmentation due to urban development Prasophyllum affine in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006sb) [Internet].

Bishop, A. (1996). Field Guide to Orchids of New South Wales and Victoria. Sydney, NSW: University of New South Wales Press.

Bower C.C. (2002). Pollution of the Jervis Bay Leek Orchid Prasophyllym affine Lindley (Orchidaceae). Final Report to the Jervis Bay Leek Orchid Recovery Team. Orange: Orchid Research.

Bushfire and Environmental Services (BES) (2007). Threatened Biodiversity Survey and assessment - Rezoning Investigations; Heritage Estate, Worrowing Heights, City of Shoalhaven. Report prepared for Shoalhaven City Council. EPBC Referral 2007/3448.

EPBC Referral (2007). Approval Decision - Stockland Residential and Commercial Development, Vincentia NSW (EPBC 2006/2927).

GHD (2006a). Vincentia Residential and Commercial Development - Threatened Orchid Monitoring. Report to Stocklands Developments Pty Ltd.

NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW) (2005ox). Jervis Bay Leek Orchid - profile. [Online]. Available from:

NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW) (2010i). Draft National Recovery Plan for the Jervis Bay Leek Orchid, Prasophyllum affine. Hurtsville: NSW DECCW.

NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS) (1999ac). Threatened Species Information - Prasophyllum affine. [Online]. Available from:

NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS) (2003n). Draft Recovery Plan for the Jervis Bay Leek Orchid (Prasophyllum affine). [Online]. Hurstville: NSW NPWS. Available from:

Stephenson, A.W. (2005). Prasophyllum affine Habitat Loss. [Online]. Orchid Conservation Coalition.

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This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Prasophyllum affine in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: Accessed Tue, 23 Sep 2014 07:40:07 +1000.