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 Listing Advice for Norfolk Island Flora - 15 Vulnerable Species (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2003q) [Listing Advice].
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans Norfolk Island Region Threatened Species Recovery Plan (Director of National Parks (DNP), 2010) [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
Amendment to the list of threatened species under section 178 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (87) (23/09/2009) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2009i) [Legislative Instrument].
Scientific name Taeniophyllum norfolkianum [82347]
Family Orchidaceae:Orchidales:Liliopsida:Magnoliophyta:Plantae
Species author D.L.Jones, B.Gray et M.A.Clem.
Infraspecies author  
Reference D.L. Jones, B. Gray & M.A. Clements 2006, Orchadian 15(4):157-158, f.1
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: Taeniophyllum norfolkianum

Common name: Minute Orchid

Other names: Ribbon-root Orchid

Previously included with T. muelleri (also known as Minute Orchid or Ribbon-root Orchid) which is found on the mainland of Australia north from the Bellinger River to Far North Queensland, the Minute Orchid is now classified and accepted as a separate species (Clements 2008; Jones & Gray 2006).

The Minute Orchid is a leafless epiphytic orchid with thick, pale green roots up to 2 mm wide, with short thread-like racemes of plump olive-coloured flowers that lengthen up to 25 mm during flowering period. There are five to twelve single flowers at any time. Buds, flowers and capsules may all be present at the one time. Flowers are tubular at the base with spreading tips and 2.2 mm long and 1.5 mm wide (Jones & Gray 2006).

This species is endemic to Norfolk Island and is recorded from only three locations (Director of National Parks 2010):

  • Mount Bates
  • Mount Pitt
  • Red Road.

Less than 500 mature plants were recorded on Norfolk Island in 2003 (Director of National Parks 2010).

The Minute Orchid grows on the underside of branches of the Norfolk Pine (Aruacaria heterophylla) (Director of National Parks 2010), in shaded gullies and lower slopes in closed forests (Jones & Gray 2006). The species has been found on the lower trunks of trees and on young branches fallen during storms (Jones & Gray 2006).
The altitude range of the species is 200–300 above sea level (Jones & Gray 2006).

Flowering of the Minute Orchid is recorded from August to October (Jones & Gray 2006).

This species is very similar to T. muelleri, with which it was originally classified. However, Minute Orchid (T. norfolkianum) is restricted to Norfolk Island and does not form colonies like T. muelleri does. The roots of Minute Orchid (T. norfolkianum) are also thicker than those of T. muelleri and round in cross-section. The leaves of the Minute Orchid are olive-green compared to the yellowish-green of T. muelleri (Jones & Gray 2006).

Threats include habitat modification or loss, forest health issues, and catastrophic events due to the small population size and limited area that the species inhabits (Director of National Parks 2010). Dieback within populations of Norfolk Island Pines is suggested to be a major threat, as more than half the mature trees on Norfolk Island are affected (Jones & Gray 2006).

Norfolk Island Region Threatened Species Recovery Plan (Director of National Parks 2010) identifies the Minute Orchid in management actions, with a specific action being the monitoring of the Norfolk Island National Park post storm events to rescue any fallen specimens of this species or other epiphytic orchids, and attempt to cultivate them.

Other general management actions identified to assist recovery of the species include (Director of National Parks 2010):

  • Reducing the impact of existing weeds on biodiversity.
  • Improving the condition and extent of native vegetation remnants.
  • Preventing the accidental introduction of exotic flora, fauna or pathogens to Norfolk Island.
  • Reviewing of quarantine procedures and developing a quarantine strategy.
  • Engaging the Norfolk Island community in implementation of the recovery plan.

Management documents for the Minute Orchid include:

  • Norfolk island National Park and Norfolk Island Botanic Gardens Management Plan 2008-2018 (Director of National Parks 2010).

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
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Habitat Shifting and Alteration:Habitat modification, destruction and alteration due to changes in land use patterns Norfolk Island Region Threatened Species Recovery Plan (Director of National Parks (DNP), 2010a) [State Recovery Plan].
Species Stresses:Indirect Species Effects:Low numbers of individuals Norfolk Island Region Threatened Species Recovery Plan (Director of National Parks (DNP), 2010a) [State Recovery Plan].
Commonwealth Listing Advice for Norfolk Island Flora - 15 Vulnerable Species (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2003q) [Listing Advice].

Clements, M.A. (2008). Australian Orchid Name Index. [Online]. Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research/Australian National Herbarium. Available from:

Director of National Parks (DNP) (2010). Norfolk Island Region Threatened Species Recovery Plan. [Online]. Canberra, Director of National Parks Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Available from:

Jones, D.L. & B. Gray (2006). Taeniophyllum norfolkianum (Orchidaceae), a new species from Norfolk Island'. The Orchadian. 15(4):156-158.

Threatened Species Scientific Committee (2003q). Commonwealth Listing Advice for Norfolk Island Flora - 15 Vulnerable Species. [Online]. Available from:

EPBC Act email updates can be received via the Communities for Communities newsletter and the EPBC Act newsletter.

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). Taeniophyllum norfolkianum in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: Accessed Wed, 1 Oct 2014 06:37:51 +1000.