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
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].
State Government
    Documents and Websites
TAS:Threatened Species Listing Statement-Tunbridge leek orchid Prasophyllum tunbridgense D. L. Jones 1998 (Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (TAS DIPWE), 2000h) [Information Sheet].
TAS:Prasophyllum tunbridgense (Tunbridge Leek-orchid): Species Management Profile for Tasmania's Threatened Species Link (Threatened Species Section (TSS), 2014bf) [State Action Plan].
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)
Scientific name Prasophyllum tunbridgense [64957]
Family Orchidaceae:Orchidales:Liliopsida:Magnoliophyta:Plantae
Species author D.L. Jones
Infraspecies author  
Reference Austral. Orchid Res. 3: 117 (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

Scientific name: Prasophyllum tunbridgense

Common name: Tunbridge Leek-orchid

The Tunbridge Leek-orchid derives its name from the erect, hollow appearance of its leaves, which bear resemblance to a leek. The leaf of the Tunbridge Leek-orchid is bright green with a purplish base. The free parts are 10–15 cm long. The species flowers in late October and November. While in flower the plants are 30–40 cm tall (Jones 1998d; Tas DIPWE 2000h). The flowers are situated on a dense spike 6–9 cm long, the spike has between 10–25 flowers. Each flower is 16–20 mm long and 17–25 mm wide and fragrant. The flowers are green to light greenish-brown with prominent white petals and a white labellum. The lateral sepals are free, widely divergent and obliquely erect. Petals are 3 mm wide and 10–12 mm long. The labellum is curved back at right angles below the middle, the apex is usually curved back through the lateral sepals. The margins of the labellum are intensely crinkled. The greenish-yellow to yellow callus on the labellum has a square notched apex (Tas DIPWE 2000h).

The Tunbridge Leek-orchid can be confused with both Prasophyllum milfordense and P. truncatum. It can be distingushed by its flowers, which are larger than both species and more crowded. The petals are also longer and wider with the upper margins flared and more widely spreading (Tas DIPWE 2000h).

The Tunbridge Leek-orchid is restricted to a 30 km region in the Tasmanian Midlands. Small populations occur in the Tunbridge area with only one or two plants found north of Campbell Town. The species occupies less than 3 ha in total (Tas DIPWE 2000h). Five important locations have been identified:

  • Township Lagoon Nature Reserve (40 plants, 1 ha)
  • private land near Tunbridge (45 plants, 0.5 ha)
  • private land north of Tunbridge (45 plants, 1–1.5 ha)
  • Campbell Town Golf Course (2 plants, 0.0001 ha)
  • private land north of Campbell Town (1 plant, 0.0001 ha).

The Tunbridge Leek-orchid grows in native grassland remnants with occasional small shrubs, in well-drained, red-brown basaltic loam and stony loam, with basalt bedrock close to the surface. It occurs in the lowest rainfall region in the state (about 500 mm per annum), at altitudes around 210 m asl (Jones 1998d).

The Tunbridge Leek-orchid reproduces via insect pollination. The labellum produces a vast quantity of nectar which is desirable to a variety of native insects including bees, wasps and beetles (Tas DIPWE 2000h).

The main threatening process facing the Tunbridge Leek-orchid is the large scale conversion of native grasslands to pasture. This is particularly prevalent in the Midlands region. Habitat modification is believed to be responsible for the restricted distribution of the species. Topdressing with superphosphate throughout the 1950s is most likely for local extinctions and rendering the habitat unsuitable for future orchid growth (Tas DIPWE 2000h).

Plants that are located in the Township Lagoon Nature Reserve are managed for protection, however species occuring on private land may not be protected. One owner of private land north of Tunbridge agreed to divert a proposed stock route to minimise the impact of trampling (Tas DIPWE 2000h).

The Flora Recovery Plan: Tasmanian Threatened Orchids 2006-2010 (TSS 2006a) was developed to address the threats facing 68 threatened orchid species in Tasmania. The overall objective of recovery is to minimise the probability of extinction in the wild of threatened orchid species listed on the Tasmanian TSP Act and the Commonwealth EPBC Act and to increase the probability of each taxon becoming self-sustaining in the long-term.

Within the life span of the plan (five years), the specific objectives for recovery for Tasmania's threatened orchids are:

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

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 Flora Recovery Plan: Tasmanian Threatened Orchids 2006-2010 (Threatened Species Section (TSS), 2006a) [Recovery Plan].
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Indirect Ecosystem Effects:Restricted geographical distribution (area of occupancy and extent of occurrence) Flora Recovery Plan: Tasmanian Threatened Orchids 2006-2010 (Threatened Species Section (TSS), 2006a) [Recovery Plan].

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

Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (TAS DIPWE) (2000h). Threatened Species Listing Statement-Tunbridge leek orchid Prasophyllum tunbridgense D. L. Jones 1998. [Online]. Available from:$FILE/Prasophyllum%20tunbridgense%20listing%20statement.pdf.

Threatened Species Section (TSS) (2006a). Flora Recovery Plan: Tasmanian Threatened Orchids 2006-2010. [Online]. Hobart, Tasmania: DPIWE. 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). Prasophyllum tunbridgense in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: Accessed Mon, 22 Sep 2014 12:55:15 +1000.