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 Critically Endangered
Listing and Conservation Advices Commonwealth Listing Advice on Prasophyllum favonium (Western Leek-orchid) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2001be) [Listing Advice].
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, this species had a recovery plan in force at the time the legislation provided for the Minister to decide whether or not to have a recovery plan (19/2/2007).
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans Flora Recovery Plan: Tasmanian Threatened Orchids 2006-2010 (Threatened Species Section (TSS), 2006a) [Recovery Plan].
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].
Inclusion of species in the list of threatened species under section 178 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (05/10/2001) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2001c) [Legislative Instrument].
State Government
    Documents and Websites
TAS:Prasophyllum favonium (Western Leek-orchid): Species Management Profile for Tasmania's Threatened Species Link (Threatened Species Section (TSS), 2014at) [State Action Plan].
TAS:Listing Statement Western leek orchid Prasophyllum favonium (Threatened Species Unit (TSU), 2000d) [Book].
TAS:Flowering Times of Tasmanian Orchids: A Practical Guide for Field Botanists (Wapstra, M., N. Roberts, H. Wapstra & A. Wapstra, 2008) [Information Sheet].
State Listing Status
TAS: Listed as Endangered (Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 (Tasmania): September 2012 list)
Non-statutory Listing Status
IUCN: Listed as Critically Endangered (Global Status: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: 2013.1 list)
Scientific name Prasophyllum favonium [64949]
Family Orchidaceae:Orchidales:Liliopsida:Magnoliophyta:Plantae
Species author D.L. Jones
Infraspecies author  
Reference Austral. Orchid Res. 3: 104 (1998)
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

The species is conventionally accepted as Prasophyllum favonium (CHAH 2010). The Western Leek-orchid was one of three species, closely related to P. fitzgeraldii that previously may have been identified in Tasmania as P. rogersii (Jones 1998d; Jones et al. 1999).

The Western Leek-orchid is a deciduous terrestrial herb, with inflorescence growing from 15–35 cm high, crowded along the stem and brownish to greenish with a dark medium line in the petal, and a pink to purple labellum (lower petal). There are 5–15 flowers clustered on the flower spike from 3–7 cm long (Jones 1998d, 2001, pers. comm., 2006; TSU 2000). Leaves are 120–280 mm long and 4–7 mm wide, pale green to dark green with a reddish base. The callus within the labellum, and the labellum itself are covered in minute bumps and the labellum is wavy along the margins (Jones 2006; TSU 2000).

The Western Leek-orchid is endemic to Tasmania and occurs in very small patches in a 30 km area between West Point and Sandy Cape. The area of occupancy is only about 0.005 hectares in total (TSU 2000).

The Western Leek-orchid is known from five locations (TSU 2000):

  • Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area, West Point
  • Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area, Sundown Creek
  • Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area, just north of Sardine Creek
  • Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area, near Couta Rocks -2 sites known
  • Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area, Rebecca Creek -2 sites known

The total number of mature individuals has been estimated to be less than 40 (TSU 2000).

There are considered to be six populations of the Western Leek-orchid at the five known localities. Populations are typically very small with 1–2 colonies each consisting of 3–5 plants occupying a compact area of only 5–10 square metres (TSU 2000).

This species grows among shrubs in windswept dense low heathland, in drained dark grey to black sandy peaty loam, at altitudes from 10–30 m above sea level (Jones 1998d; Jones et al. 1999).

Flowering occurs in October and November. Although this species flowers without the intervention of fire, flowering is probably stimulated by summer fires (Jones 1998d). Flowers are insect pollinated and reproduction is solely from seed (Jones 2001, pers. comm.).

Threats to the Western Leek-orchid include land clearing and pasture development in the few areas that may provide potential habitat for the species, north of Marrawah in the Woolnorth area. Most suitable habitat in West Coast coastal heathlands has been cleared and used for agriculture. Within the Arthur-Pieman heathlands, cattle grazing pose a small potential threat. Inappropriate fire regimes may pose a long-term threat but only if large areas are excluded from burns for periods over 20–30 years (TSU 2000). The main concern about the species is the small number and size of known colonies, and small number of plants involved in each. Such small populations could easily be destroyed by serious and prolonged droughts, or localised events such as animals digging up tubers. Illegal collection has also been identified as a major threat facing Orchids (TSU 2000).

A national Flora Recovery Plan: Tasmanian Threatened Orchids 2006-2010 has been adopted (TSS 2006a). This recovery plan outlines actions to manage 68 identified threatened orchids in Tasmania, 20 of which are listed under the EPBC Act.Actions include (TSS 2006a):

  • Acquiring accurate information for sound management decisions and conservation status assessments.
  • Ensuring priority populations are managed appropriately and are securely protected.
  • Increasing the number of known populations of threatened orchid taxa.
  • Raising public awareness of orchid conservation issues and develop mechanisms to encourage and coordinate community participation in orchid recovery programs.
  • Establishing a network of government and non-government organisations and individuals that can provide input into recovery programs and undertake recovery actions.
  • Developing a better understanding of the life history and ecological requirements of threatened orchids in Tasmania.
  • Increasing the size of priority populations in the wild.
  • Identifying critical and potential habitat.
  • Establishing a genetically representative ex situ collection of orchid taxa facing imminent extinction in the wild.

To increase understanding of the Western Leek-orchid, along with other Tasmanian orchids in order to protect populations, DPIWE and the volunteer Tasmanian Threatened Plant Action Group (TPAG) are undertaking long-term annual monitoring of known orchid populations to provide information with which to assess recovery actions (Larcombe 2008).

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:Agriculture and Aquaculture:Land clearing, habitat fragmentation and/or habitat degradation Personal Communication (Jones, D.L., 2001) [Personal Communication].
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Indirect Ecosystem Effects:Restricted geographical distribution (area of occupancy and extent of occurrence) Commonwealth Listing Advice on Prasophyllum favonium (Western Leek-orchid) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2001be) [Listing Advice].
Species Stresses:Indirect Species Effects:Low numbers of individuals Contributions to Tasmanian Orchidology 1-9. Australian Orchid Research. 3. (Jones, D.L., 1998d) [Journal].
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Prasophyllum favonium (Western Leek-orchid) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2001be) [Listing Advice].

Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria (CHAH) (2010). Australian Plant Census. [Online]. Australian National Herbarium, Australian National Botanic Gardens and Australian Biological Resources Study . Available from:

Jones, D.L. (1998d). Contributions to Tasmanian Orchidology 1-9. Australian Orchid Research. 3. Essendon, Victoria: Australian Orchid Foundation.

Jones, D.L. (2001). Personal Communication.

Jones, D.L. (2006). A complete guide to Native Orchids of Australia, including the island Territories. Sydney, NSW: New Holland Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd.

Jones, D.L., H. Wapstra, P. Tonelli & S. Harris (1999). The Orchids of Tasmania. Carlton South, Victoria: Melbourne University Press.

Larcombe, M. (2008). Tasmanian Threatened Orchid Baseline Data and Monitoring: Where we are at and where we need to be. The Tasmanian Naturalist. 130:67-81.

Threatened Species Section (TSS) (2006a). Flora Recovery Plan: Tasmanian Threatened Orchids 2006-2010. [Online]. Hobart, Tasmania: DPIWE. Available from:

Threatened Species Unit (TSU) (2000d). Listing Statement Western leek orchid Prasophyllum favonium. [Online]. Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment, Tasmania. Available from:$FILE/Prasophyllum%20favonium%20listing%20statement.pdf.

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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 favonium in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: Accessed Fri, 19 Sep 2014 16:06:44 +1000.