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 Vulnerable
Listing and Conservation Advices Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Diuris drummondii (Tall Donkey Orchid) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008i) [Conservation Advice].
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan not required, included on the Not Commenced List (1/11/2009).
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans
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].
State Government
    Documents and Websites
WA:Declared rare and poorly known flora in the Warren Region, Western Australian Wildlife Management Program No 40 (Hearn, R.W., R. Meissner, A.P. Brown, T.D. Macfarlane & T.R. Annels, 2006) [Management Plan].
State Listing Status
WA: Listed as Vulnerable (Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 (Western Australia): September 2013 list)
Scientific name Diuris drummondii [4365]
Family Orchidaceae:Orchidales:Liliopsida:Magnoliophyta:Plantae
Species author Lindley
Infraspecies author  
Reference Edwards's Botanical Register -- Appendix to Vols 1-23: A Sketch of the Vegetation of the Swan River Colony (1 Jan. 1840) li.
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: Diuris drummondii

Common Name: Tall Donkey Orchid

The Tall Donkey Orchid is a terrestrial, tuberous, perennial orchid that grows up to 105 cm tall (Brown et al. 1998; Hoffman & Brown 1998). The species has between three and eight widely spaced pale yellow flowers, 3—4.5 cm long and 2.3—3.5 cm wide (Brown et al. 1998). It often forms dense colonies.

There are 12 populations known between Perth and Walpole, south-west Western Australia (Brown et al. 1998; Hopper et al. 1990). Recently, two populations have been identified within the city of Bunbury, the first on council-managed land, and the second on private land (South-West Catchments Council 2007).

The species occurs within the Swan, south-west and South Coast (Western Australia) Natural Resource Management (NRM) regions.

Tall Donkey Orchids are found in low-lying depressions in peaty and sandy clay swamps. Plants are frequently observed standing in several centimetres of water even during the summer flowering period (Brown et al. 1998; Hoffman & Brown 1998).

The Tall Donkey Orchid flowers from late October to mid January (Brown 2013 pers. comm. cited in DSEWPaC 2013f).

Summer fires stimulate flowering and increase proliferation in most populations (Brown et al. 1998; Hopper et al. 1990). Many populations flower only sporadically in years without fire (Brown et al. 1998; Hearn et al. 2006).

This species has often been confused with Diuris emarginata and D. heberlei. The Tall Donkey Orchid is taller and larger, and has a more robust habit and larger flowers, which are often a paler yellow (Brown 2013 pers. comm. cited in DSEWPaC 2013f; Hearn et al. 2006).

Surveys should be carried out between July to January, when above-ground parts of the plant are present.

Fires occurring between July and early January, when the above-ground parts are present and seeds have not been set, is likely to detrimentally impact on abundance and recruitment (Brown et al. 1998; Hearn et al. 2006).

As the Tall Donkey Orchid is often found with its base in water, significant changes to water tables over time may have a detrimental impact (Brown et al. 1998).

The response of this species to weed invasion has not been extensively documented, however, this species is likely to be vulnerable to post-fire invasion by weedy annuals (Hearn et al. 2006).

There are a number of actions that can be taken to minimise threats to the Tall Donkey Orchid, including:

  • Monitoring known populations and identifying those with particularly high conservation value
  • Managing hydrological issues such as altered water tables, sedimentation or water pollution
  • Initiating appropriate fire regimes, which restrict fires to controlled burns between February to June (Hearn et al. 2006)
  • Raising awareness in the local community, particularly land managers
  • Undertaking seed collecton and cultivation where appropriate and investigating options for planting linkages between populations.

Documents relevant to the management of the Tall Donkey Orchid can be found at the start of the profile.

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
Natural System Modifications:Dams and Water Management/Use:Alteration of hydrological regimes and water quality Diuris drummondii in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006hk) [Internet].
Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate and/or changed fire regimes (frequency, timing, intensity) Diuris drummondii in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006hk) [Internet].

Brown, A., C. Thomson-Dans & N. Marchant, eds. (1998). Western Australia's Threatened Flora. Como, Western Australia: Department of Conservation and Land Management.

Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC) (2013f). Draft Survey guidelines for Australia's threatened orchids. EPBC Act survey guidelines.

Hearn, R.W., R. Meissner, A.P. Brown, T.D. Macfarlane & T.R. Annels (2006). Declared rare and poorly known flora in the Warren Region, Western Australian Wildlife Management Program No 40. [Online]. Western Australian Department of Conservation and Land Management. Available from:

Hoffman, N. & A. Brown (1998). Orchids of South-west Australia Rev. 2nd edn. Nedlands, Western Australia: University of Western Australia Press.

Hopper, S.D., S. van Leeuwen, A.P. Brown & S.J. Patrick (1990). Western Australia's Endangered Flora and other plants under consideration for declaration. Perth, Western Australia: Department of Consrvation and Land Management.

South-West Catchments Council (SWCC) (2007). Update 40: General News. SWCC E-Newsletter NRMO. [Online]. Available from:

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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). Diuris drummondii in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: Accessed Wed, 17 Sep 2014 03:49:49 +1000.