Biodiversity

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
Listing and Conservation Advices Commonwealth Conservation Advice for Phaius australis (Lesser Swamp-orchid) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2014cb) [Conservation Advice].
 
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan not required, the approved conservation advice for the species provides sufficient direction to implement priority actions and mitigate against key threats (29/04/2014).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans
Other EPBC Act Plans Threat Abatement Plan for Predation, Habitat Degradation, Competition and Disease Transmission by Feral Pigs (Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (AGDEH), 2005p) [Threat Abatement 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
NSW:Phaius australis (a tall swamp orchid) - endangered species listing. NSW Scientific Committee - final determination (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 1998c) [Internet].
NSW:Southern Swamp Orchid - profile (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2005iw) [Internet].
State Listing Status
NSW: Listed as Endangered (Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (New South Wales): December 2013 list)
QLD: Listed as Endangered (Nature Conservation Act 1992 (Queensland): May 2014 list)
Scientific name Phaius australis [5872]
Family Orchidaceae:Orchidales:Liliopsida:Magnoliophyta:Plantae
Species author F.Muell.
Infraspecies author  
Reference Fragmenta Phytographiae Australiae 1 (Jun. 1858) 42.
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
http://www.anos.org.au/ne_nsw_species/0410010.htm

Scientific name: Phaius australis

Common name: Lesser Swamp-orchid

Other names: Swamp Lily, Southern Swamp-orchid, Island Swamp-orchid

The Lesser Swamp-orchid was described in 1858 by Baron Ferdinand von Mueller from material collected by E. Fitzlan on Lady Elliott's Island, Queensland. However, the scientific names of the Greater and Lesser Swamp-orchids were not generally applied in the early twentieth century (or earlier). Instead, both species were known as P. grandifolius (Nicholls 1950 in Benwell 1994b). To complicate matters further, authorities such as Rupp (1943) referred only to 'P. tancarvilleae', apparently applying this name to both species also (Benwell 1994b).

In order to clarify some of these taxonomic issues, and despite the difficulties involved with preserving these species as herbarium specimens, historical records of this species have been checked by an expert botanist (Benwell 1994b). This research revealed that all herbarium material and photos from southern Queensland and northern NSW are the Lesser Swamp-orchid and not the Greater Swamp-orchid as is often cited. All living material collected by Jones from these areas were also of the Lesser Swamp-orchid species (D.L. Jones 1999, pers. comm.).

A third, similar species of swamp orchid is the Yellow Swamp-orchid (P. bernaysii), a species that is now restricted to Stradbroke Island and possibly Moreton Island. Yellow Swamp-orchids were once considered a variety of the Lesser Swamp-orchid but are now recognised as a distinct species (Sparshott & Bostock 1993).

Despite the differences in the physical features of these three swamp orchids, preliminary genetic analysis has revealed few genetic differences; although further investigation is needed to verify this observation (Harrison et al. 2005).

Swamp-orchids are terrestrial (ground dwelling) orchids and produce the largest flowers of any Australian orchid (Qld EPA & QPWS 2006). Each plant of the Lesser Swamp-orchid has 4–8 large, pleated leaves and 1–2 spikes (flower stalks). The leaves of this orchid are long (approx. 70 cm), relatively narrow (3–10 cm wide) (NH NSW 2006) and are very similar to the other swamp-orchids (Benwell 1994b). The flowers grow on the top of stalks that are 70–110 cm long and, unlike the other swamp orchids, are red-brown with yellow veins inside the flower (NH NSW 2006). The flowers are perfumed (Searle & Maden 2006) and are 10–15 cm across (Qld EPA & QPWS 2006).

The Lesser Swamp-orchid is endemic to Australia and occurs in southern Queensland and northern NSW (Benwell 1994b; D.L. Jones 1999, pers. comm.). Taking into account the possibility of misidentification due to ongoing taxonomic confusion between the Greater Swamp-orchid and the Lesser Swamp-orchid, the distribution of the Lesser Swamp-orchid has been tentatively described as being north from Lake Cathie (near Port Macquarie), but mainly north of the Evans Head area to the Barron River in northeast Queensland, although it is rare in the latter region (only 1 or 2 records) and the populations are now thought to be destroyed (Benwell 1994b).

Specimens of this species are kept in Maroochy Regional Bushland Botanic Garden (Sunshine Coast Regional Council 2009), Coffs Harbour Regional Botanic Garden, Brisbane's Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens (Benwell 1994b) and the Australian National Botanic Garden in Canberra (ANBG 2006). It is common in cultivation and easily propagated from seed or the vegetative buds located underneath the leafy bracts on the flowering stems (Qld EPA & QPWS 2006). Cultivated plants are available commercially from Coffs Harbour Regional Botanic Garden (Benwell 1994b).

Many of the Lesser Swamp-orchid plants within leasehold land on North Stradbroke Island have been transplanted there from other areas on the Island, where they would have been destroyed due to activities such as mining (Sparshott & Bostock 1993).

Most populations of the Lesser Swamp-orchid are sporadically distributed between Coffs Harbour and Fraser Island. There is a large discontinuity in this species' range in central eastern Queensland, between the Fraser Island populations and an isolated population at Byfield National Park. There is a further range disjunction between this latter population and the suspected former population in northeast Queensland (Benwell 1994b).

The Lesser Swamp-orchid has been surveyed under targeted species specific (Benwell 1994b), rare plant (Sparshott & Bostock 1993) and more general flora surveys (Searle & Maden 2006). The details of the methodology of these surveys is given below:

Species Specific Surveys
The first comprehensive survey on the Greater and Lesser Swamp-orchids was conducted by Benwell (1994b). For this survey, estimates were obtained of past and present distribution and abundance information from Herbarium records, literature and information provided by botanists, members of the Australasian Native Orchid Society (ANOS) and other interested persons (Benwell 1994b).

A proforma was sent to people with field knowledge of swamp-orchid populations, requesting information on location, determination of species, population size, habitat, threats and life history. Due to the serious threat to surviving populations from collectors, several people gave only general location details (Benwell 1994b).

Rare Plant Surveys
Rare plant species and associations were surveyed in Flinders Swamp and part of Myora Swamp and adjoining areas on North Stradbroke Island. Aerial photography and ground-truthing was used to map vegetation types. Field surveys were undertaken over 2.5 months in Spring 1993 (10 September – 23 November). These field surveys were worked around and across all open swamps (closed sedgelands) within the study area to assess the most likely habitats for the rare plants. Swampy woodlands and open forests where Broad-leaved Paperbark (Melaleuca quinquinervia) or Swamp Mahogany (Eucalyptus robusta) predominated, as well as rainforest (closed forest), were also surveyed. Other ecosystems were only visited briefly (Sparshott & Bostock 1993).

Where populations of the rare plants were small, the total number of plants were counted and the size of the area measured. However, where a population was scattered intermittently over a large area, 20 x 20 m quadrats were used to estimate the density of the species. Young (non-flowering) swamp-orchids could not be assigned to a species (Sparshott & Bostock 1993).

Flora Surveys
Searle & Madden (2006) worked on preliminary vegetation maps based on 1:8000 colour aerial photography. These maps were then ground-truthed and reviewed using the flora field sites surveyed by the Queensland Herbarium and additional sites surveyed by Gold Coast City Council Conservation Officers and a consultant field biologist. Field surveys involved the preparation of detailed flora species lists for each mapped community type, with additional information collected during traverses of the entire site. Ground-truthing varied in reliability depending on location and accessibility (Searle & Madden 2006).

Fieldwork involved botanical surveys, and assessing representative plots within each vegetation unit, to provide structural and abundance data describing each vegetation community. Several duplicate plots were surveyed in each vegetation type where possible to provide an indication of variation in structure and relative abundance within mapping units (Searle & Madden 2006).

Determining the size of a swamp-orchid population in the field is difficult. Swamp-orchids grow as clumps of pseudobulbs and leafy stems, thus making it difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish between seeds that have germinated close to established mature plants and a mature plant reproducing vegetatively. To take account of this, a unit plant was described as a leaf tuft with associated pseudobulbs, and single or grouped pseudobulbs without a leaf tuft. This method could overestimate the number of genetically distinct individuals by 50% or more (Benwell 1994b).

In 1994, there were an estimated 1500 plants in NSW and 5–10 000 in south-east Queensland (Benwell 1994b). Ten years later it was estimated that there were 14 known populations of the Lesser Swamp-orchid, although the number of plants in a population was only known for 50% of the populations and most had very few individuals with only about 180 plants known in the wild (NSW DECCW 1998c). The largest known populations are on the sand islands off the coast of south-east Queensland (especially North Stradbroke Island) and at Yandina (Benwell 1994b). The remaining mainland populations are small, scattered, remnant populations (NSW DECCW 1998c).

Some details on known past and present populations of the Lesser Swamp-orchid are given below. It should be noted that population densities of this species vary considerably between populations (Benwell 1994b).

Queensland Populations

General Area Location Population Size Land Tenure Comments Source
East of Eurimbula Lady Elliot Island Extinct?     Benwell 1994b
Rockhampton Byfield   National park   Benwell 1994b; Qld EPA & QPWS 2006
Noosa Lake Weyba - Eenie Creek       Lee 2003
SW of Noosa Yandina Some hundreds Freehold? Self and non-self pollinated Benwell 1994b
SW of Noosa Bellthorpe 5 or 6 small plants State forest   Benwell 1994b
Inland of Bribie Island Deception Bay 1 plant located Crown land Collected 1992; details in QLD Herbarium Benwell 1994b
NE of Brisbane Bribie Island Some hundreds, confined area Crown land Self-pollinating Benwell 1994b
North Stradbroke Island Amity Some hundreds     Benwell 1994b
North Stradbroke Island Dunwich 1000+ plants Crown land, special lease   Benwell 1994b
North Stradbroke Island Swan Bay   Mining lease Old collections from this area; populations likely to survive Benwell 1994b
South Stradbroke Island   200–2000     Searle & Madden 2006
Gold Coast Airport + Jacobs Well       GCCC 2006

NSW Populations

General Area Location Population Size Land Tenure Comments Source
Byron Bay Suffolk Park 6 plants Freehold Declining, rescued by NPWS for relocation Benwell 1994b
South Byron Bay Ballina 15 plants   Reported to be increasing; 7a wetland habitat zone Benwell 1994b
South Byron Bay Ballina 1 plant     Benwell 1994b
South Ballina Broadwater 20–30 small plants National park   Benwell 1994b
SW Yamba Yuraygir 50 plants National park   Benwell 1994b
East of Grafton Diggers Camp     Searched unsuccessfully by E. Durbidge Benwell 1994b
North of Coffs Harbour Woolgoolga       Benwell 1994b
Coffs Harbour Coffs Harbour 1 plant   Unusual hillside occurrence; re-located as in decline Benwell 1994b
Coffs Harbour Boambee Extinct? Freehold Possibly extinct Benwell 1994b


Since European settlement, 95% of the original populations of the Lesser Swamp-orchid in north-east NSW and south-east Queensland have become extinct. Large populations persisted until the mid 1970s on the Gold Coast and until the mid 1980s on the Sunshine Coast (Benwell 1994b).

On South Stradbroke Island large habitat areas of Broad-leaved Paperbark (Melaleuca quinquenervia) Open Forest (Vegetation Unit 8a) support significant populations of the endangered Lesser Swamp-orchid and are considered to represent stronghold areas and critical habitat (as defined under the Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992) for this species. The Lesser Swamp-orchid is likely to occur widely, but irregularly, throughout this vegetation unit, beyond the limited area that was surveyed (Searle & Madden 2006). However, the largest population is believed to be on North Stradbroke Island (Benwell 1994b).

Populations of the Lesser Swamp-orchid occur in the following reserves (Benwell 1994b; Sparshott & Bostock 1993):

Queensland

Location Conservation Measures Comments
Byfield National Park Reserved in national park Originally recorded as the Greater Swamp-orchid, but all records of this species south of north Queensland are now considered to be the Lesser Swamp-orchid
Pine Ridge Environmental Park, Gold Coast Reserved in national park Originally recorded as the Greater Swamp-orchid
Ella Bay National Park Reserved in national park Unconfirmed report
Graham Range National Park Reserved in national park Unconfirmed report
Fraser Island Part reserved in Great Sandy National Park Unconfirmed report
Cooloola National Park Reserved in national park Unconfirmed report
Weyba Reserved in Noosa National Park
North Stradbroke Island Very small population reserved in Blue Lake National Park Flora Reserve R2572 Unconfirmed report
Moreton Island Reserved in national park Unconfirmed report

New South Wales

Location Conservation Measures Comments
Ballina 7(a) zoning [environmental protection]
Broadwater National Park Reserved in national park
Yuraygir National Park Reserved in national park
Bundjalung National Park Reserved in national park Originally recorded as the Greater Swamp-orchid

The Lesser Swamp-orchid is commonly associated with coastal wet heath/sedgeland wetlands (Barry 2005), swampy grassland or swampy forest (NSW DECCW 2005iw) and often where Broad-leaved Paperbark or Swamp Mahogany are found (NH NSW 2006; Sparshott & Bostock 1993). Typically, the Lesser Swamp-orchid is restricted to the swamp-forest margins, where it occurs in swamp sclerophyll forest (Broad-leaved Paperbark/Swamp Mahogany/Swamp Box (Lophostemon suaveolens)), swampy rainforest (often with sclerophyll emergents), or fringing open forest. It is often associated with rainforest elements such as Bangalow Palm (Archontophoenix cunninghamiana) or Cabbage Tree Palm (Livistona australis) (Benwell 1994b; Bishop 1996; Weston in Harden 1993).

On North Stradbroke Island the Lesser Swamp-orchid grows under closed forest, Broad-leaved Paperbark/Swamp Mahogany open forest, Broad-leaved Paperbark open forest, Pink Bloodwood/Brush box/Coastal Cypress Pine/Banksia (E. intermedia/Lophostemon confertus/Callitris columellaris/Banksia spp.) open forest, and along the margins between open forest/woodland and closed sedgeland (Sparshott & Bostock 1993).

Although recorded elsewhere as a species of open swampy habitats in full sun (Benwell 1994b; Bishop 1996; Weston in Harden 1993), the preferred situation of this species on North Stradbroke Island seems to be the fairly shady environment provided by the Broad-leaved Paperbark/Swamp Mahogany open forest. Plants in exposed positions tend to be somewhat stunted and have yellowish leaves (Sparshott & Bostock 1993).

On South Stradbroke Island, Lesser Swamp-orchids have been recorded as isolated individuals and in small clumps interspersed throughout the ground layer of Broad-leaved Paperbark Open Forest on Coastal Sand (Vegetation Unit 8a) and associated swamp forest habitats (Searle & Madden 2006). This vegetation unit is one of the two major terrestrial vegetation communities on South Stradbroke Island, and typically occurs on low-lying, relatively older sand dunes, particularly on the western side of the island. Some of the most expansive and well-developed tracts of this vegetation type are typically bordered by Vegetation Unit 39 (i.e. Pink Bloodwood/Brush Box/White Cypress Pine Open Forest on Coastal Sand) to the east and various marine vegetation (i.e. Vegetation Units 18, 22, 25) along the western fringe of the island (Searle & Madden 2006).

Vegetation Unit 8a is characterised by a canopy dominated by mature Broad-leaved Paperbark, 15–30 m, in height with Swamp Mahogany and Swamp Box as sub-dominant to minor canopy components. A sparse sub-canopy from 5–15 m comprised of Cabbage Tree Palm, Celery Wood (Polyscias elegans), Hickory Wattle (Acacia disparrima), Pink Euodia (Melicope elleryana) and Red Honeysuckle (Banksia serrata) is often present. A sparse to absent shrub layer, including Blue-tongue (Melastoma malabathricum), Lantana (Lantana camara), Hairy Psychotria (Psychotria loniceroides), Midyim (Austromyrtus dulcis) and Sandfly Zieria (Zieria smithii) may also be present. The ground cover is typically dominated by Bracken Fern (Pteridium esculentum) and also consists of a mixture of other native ferns (Blechnum indicum, Cyclosorus interruptus, Calochlaena dubia), native grasses (Imperata cylindrica, Oplismenus hirtellus), native sedges (Baumea juncea), Mat-rushes (Lomandra longifolia), and a variety of forbs (including Desmodium gunnii and Viola hederacea) from 0.1–2 m in height (Searle & Madden 2006).

Localised patches of dense Cabbage Tree Palm form swamp forest thickets in low lying areas, often with a dense litter layer of palm fronds and little other under-storey, and typically interspersed with a sub-canopy of mesic tree species such as Celery Wood, Pink Euodia and Lilly-pillies (Syzygium oleosum, S. leuhmanii). Alternatively, other low-lying areas develop into dense, almost exclusive stands of Broad-leaved Paperbark with an understorey layer dominated by dense beds of Binung Fern (B. indicum) to 50 cm in height (Searle & Madden 2006).


This orchid species is relatively adaptable in its requirements for light and soil type. Soils range from acidic waterlogged peat, with a pH of 4.2 to peaty-sand, with a pH of 7.0 (Sparshott & Bostock 1993). Soil parent materials include marine aeolian sand, the most common substrate, alluvium, granite, metasediments, hailstone gravel and sandstone. Soil types on sand range from shallow peat to humus/groundwater podzol (Benwell 1994b; Bishop 1996; Weston in Harden 1993).

At least three other EPBC listed plant species are thought to occur in similar habitat to that of the Lesser Swamp-orchid. These are the Endangered Yellow Swamp-orchid (Phaius bernaysii), on North Stradbroke Island, which is found in the Broad-leaved Paperbark/Swamp Mahogany open forests (Sparshott & Bostock 1993), the Vulnerable Native Smartweed or Knotweed (Persicaria elatior) and Vulnerable Stinking Cryptocarya or Stinking Laurel (Cryptocarya foetida), both of which may occur in the Broad-leaved Paperbark Open Forest (Vegetation Unit 8a) on South Stradbroke Island (Searle & Madden 2006).

The Lesser Swamp-orchid flowers in spring (September–November) and can reproduce sexually (by pollination) (Field 2006) and asexually (by dormant buds along the flower spikes). Although vegetative reproduction is thought to occur only infrequently in the wild, it is common in cultivation (Sparshott & Bostock 1993). Most flowers of the Lesser Swamp-orchid set fruit (Benwell 1994b) and like most orchids, thousands of tiny seeds may be produced within each fruit (Arditti 1992; Sparshott & Bostock 1993).

Information on the pollination biology of this species is limited, but it is thought that members of this genus are pollinated by bees (Dressler 1981, in Benwell 1994b). Other members of the genus Phaius have a 'rostellum', a structure that acts like a cap and prevents the male and female parts of an individual flower coming into contact, but is removed by the pollinator to enable cross-pollination. The Lesser Swamp-orchid lacks this cap and it is possible that the abundant fruit set of this species is indicative of self pollination (Benwell 1994b).

Surveys should be conducted in the spring as this species can only be distinguished from other swamp orchids by characteristics of its flowers (Benwell 1994b).

Benwell (1994b) produced a table of published and reported differences between the Greater Swamp-orchid and the Lesser Swamp-orchid. It is reproduced below:

Attribute Lesser Swamp-orchid Greater Swamp-orchid
Outer flower (perianth) colour Red-brown with yellow veins Cinnamon brown
Labellum shape Lateral lobes erect and incurved Lateral lobes overlapping and tightly tubular
Labellum colour Red-brown and yellow Yellow, crimson, mauve or white suffused mauve
No. of flowers per spike 10–20+ 4–10
Flower opening period Non-opening to short (2 days) Non-opening to long (a week)
Column shape Shorter and stout Longer and slender
Rostellum Absent Present
Stigmatic cavity appendages Present Absent
Additional anthers Often present Absent
Connective tissue Absent Present
Anther texture Covered in small spines (echinulate) Smooth
Nectary spur Shorter Longer
Leaf width Narrower Broader
Fruit set frequency Common Rare
Pollination Selfing Crossing

The most obvious difference between these two orchid species is the colour of the flower and the shape and colour of the labellum (the modified petal characteristic of orchids). In the Lesser Swamp-orchid this labellum is loosely curved, resembling a scoop, whilst in the Greater Swamp-orchid it is more tightly curved and tubular. However, it is also noted that the labellum shape in this genus may change throughout the life of the flower and vary in intensity of curling between populations (Benwell 1994b).

A third, similar, species of swamp orchid is the Yellow Swamp-orchid. When the Yellow Swamp-orchid is not in flower it cannot be distinguished from the Lesser Swamp-orchid. The main observable difference between these two species of orchid is their flower colour, the former having yellow flowers and the latter having red-brown flowers (Sparshott & Bostock 1993).

This species is one of Australia's most highly desired orchids and illegal collection of plants and loss of habitat are its biggest threats (NSW DECCW 1998c; Searle & Madden 2006). Other significant threats to this species include fire and possible suppression by understorey weeds including Lantana (Lantana camara) (Searle & Maden 2006).

Illegal Collection

Orchid enthusiasts regard this species as one of the most desirable species for their collections and exploitation of the wild populations is a continuing and constant threat (NSW DECCW 1998c). Flower stems are often removed from wild plants growing in the vicinity of accessible areas (Sparshott & Bostock 1993), substantially lowering the ability of this species to reproduce (Qld EPA & QPWS 2006). It is thought that some of the collecting of this species is due to cut flower collection, horticulture (NSW DECCW 2005iw), and attempts at perfume collecting (Sparshott & Bostock 1993).

Habitat loss

Loss of habitat for development, agriculture and roadworks and through tourism is a constant threat, with suitable habitat being cleared and fragmented, and swamps drained, polluted or mined (NSW DECCW 2005iw).

The Lady Elliot Island population has come under threat from tourism development, and has been seriously affected (possibly extinct) by extensive guano (bird and bat droppings) mining on the island (Benwell 1994b).

Road Development

A proposed bridge development at Eenie creek, near Noosa, was a threat to a number of threatened flora and fauna including the Lesser Swamp-orchid. Consultation between expert environmental consultants and other stakeholders has minimized this threat to the habitat through a number of ways including extending the length of the proposed bridge. However, the location of the two Lesser Swamp-orchids was considered too obvious and led the consultants to suggest the transplanting of these plants into the nearby national park (Lee 2003).

Additionally, the proposed upgrade of the Pacific Highway may be a potential threat to Lesser Swamp-orchids (RTA 2006).

Timber Harvesting

Logging of Cypress Pine (Callitris clumellaris) within the open forest near Amity Point, on the north-western edge of Flinders Swamp, North Stradborke Island is a potential threat to the species. However, the sawmillers concerned, appreciate the rarity of this species and are reportedly making efforts to avoid damage to the populations which occur fairly frequently throughout this area. It should be possible to preserve the orchids within this habitat, providing that careful, selective logging is practiced in order to protect both the plants and their habitat (Sparshott & Bostock 1993).

Mining

Peat and sand mining are potential threats to the Lesser Swamp-orchid on North Stradbroke Island (Sparshott & Bostock 1993).

Invasive Species

Invasive species threaten the habitat quality and the survivability of this species through weed invasion, grazing and trampling by feral pigs and domestic stock animals (NSW DECCW 2005iw).

Cattle are known to eat the flowering parts of orchids and severely impact on important orchid microhabitats through trampling (Qld EPA & QPWS 2006). Feral pigs, although not thought to be feeding on the swamp-orchids, root up the soil whilst searching for food and are especially damaging in Bundjalung National Park, north-east NSW and north-east Queensland (Benwell 1994b).

Lantana is a threat to the Lesser Swamp-orchid in NSW (NSW DEC 2005b) and on South Stradbroke Island (Searle & Madden 2006). Other invasive plants such as the Umbrella Tree (Schefflera actinophylla), Groundsel (Baccharis halmifolia) and Brazilian Cherry (Eugenia uniflora) have invaded suitable habitat on North Stradbroke Island, threatening to displace the native flora by competition, shading, altering fuel loads and consequently changing the fire regime. Bitou Bush (Chrysanthemoides monolifera) is another invasive species affecting the population in Broadwater National Park (Benwell 1994b).

Fire

Several orchids that have exposed pseudobulbs, like the Lesser Swamp-orchid, are known to be tolerant of low intensity fires. Some, such as Cymbidium maddidum, regenerate rapidly after fire and in some orchid species hot fires are known to stimulate flowering (Benwell 1994b). However, the effect of fire on Lesser Swamp-orchids is poorly understood (Benwell 1994b; Qld EPA & QPWS 2006).

Fire may be a specific threat to a Lesser Swamp-orchid population occurring in a grassy open forest/rainforest margin in Byfield National Park and regular fuel reduction burns may have contributed to the decline of Lesser Swamp-orchid populations from the Sunshine Coast hinterland. In contrast to these negative effects, swamp orchid populations in coastal north-east Queensland may be maintained by fire preventing the succession of their habitat to rainforest and thereby increasing light levels in the understorey (Benwell 1994b).


Biology
All orchids require a highly specialized fungal association to germinate in the wild (Arditti 1992). It is therefore important to maintain the fungal population in order to maintain the viability of the orchid populations. However, nothing is yet known of the specific orchid mycorrhizal fungi involved in this association.

Some key measures to protect this species have been outlined in the NSW Department of Environment species profile for the Lesser Swamp-orchid (NSW DECCW 2005iw) and include the following:

  • Encourage people to view and photograph native orchids but leave them in the wild.
  • Encourage people to only buy plants from licensed nurseries.
  • Assist with the control of feral pigs.
  • Protect areas of habitat from frequent fire.
  • Protect areas of habitat from pollution.
  • Fence off swampy areas to exclude stock.
  • Control weeds.
  • Protect areas of habitat from clearing, draining or development.
  • Report any observations of this species to the relevant department of the environment.

It is likely that the illegal collection of Lesser Swamp-orchid plants from the wild will continue. With an increased appreciation of the value of these orchids in their natural habitat, along with the growing band of volunteer "rangers" to watch over the plants, poaching may become much more infrequent than it has been in the past (Sparshott & Bostock 1993).

Furthermore, in order to minimise the harm to this species, burning should be conducted when Lesser Swamp-orchids are in their dormant phase (Qld EPA & QPWS 2006), and pig traps should be placed at least 150 m away from the orchids (Benwell 1994b).

Benwell's (1994b) draft recovery plan is the most comprehensive study on the Lesser Swamp-orchid to date.

Although not specifically on this species, the Lesser Swamp-orchid was included in vegetation surveys of North (Sparshott & Bostock 1993) and South Stradbroke Islands (Searle & Madden 2006).

The Threat Abatement Plan for Predation, Habitat Degradation, Competition and Disease Transmission by Feral Pigs (AGDEH 2005p) provides management guidelines for the species.

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 Northern Rivers Regional Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010p) [State Recovery Plan].
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Livestock Farming and Grazing:Habitat alteration (vegetation, soil, hydrology) due to trampling and grazing by livestock Inundation study (Environmental Resources Information Network, 2007) [Database].
Biological Resource Use:Gathering Terrestrial Plants:Illegal collection Phaius australis in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006qx) [Internet].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Habitat Shifting and Alteration:Habitat loss, modification and/or degradation Northern Rivers Regional Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010p) [State Recovery Plan].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Sea level rise:Inundation associated with climate change Inundation study (Environmental Resources Information Network, 2007) [Database].
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Indirect Ecosystem Effects:Loss and/or fragmentation of habitat and/or subpopulations Northern Rivers Regional Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010p) [State Recovery Plan].
Energy Production and Mining:Mining and Quarrying:Habitat destruction, disturbance and/or modification due to mining activities Phaius australis in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006qx) [Internet].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Human induced disturbance due to unspecified activities Northern Rivers Regional Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010p) [State Recovery Plan].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Recreational Activities:Disturbance, especially from human recreational activities and development Swamp Orchids - Phaius australis, Phaius tancarvilleae Recovery Plan (Benwell, A.S., 1994b) [Recovery Plan].
Inundation study (Environmental Resources Information Network, 2007) [Database].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Lantana camara (Lantana, Common Lantana, Kamara Lantana, Large-leaf Lantana, Pink Flowered Lantana, Red Flowered Lantana, Red-Flowered Sage, White Sage, Wild Sage) Inundation study (Environmental Resources Information Network, 2007) [Database].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Chrysanthemoides monilifera (Bitou Bush, Boneseed) Inundation study (Environmental Resources Information Network, 2007) [Database].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation by weeds Swamp Orchids - Phaius australis, Phaius tancarvilleae Recovery Plan (Benwell, A.S., 1994b) [Recovery Plan].
Inundation study (Environmental Resources Information Network, 2007) [Database].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Grazing, tramping, competition and/or habitat degradation Sus scrofa (Pig) Swamp Orchids - Phaius australis, Phaius tancarvilleae Recovery Plan (Benwell, A.S., 1994b) [Recovery Plan].
The threat posed by pest animals to biodiversity in New South Wales (Coutts-Smith, A.J., P.S. Mahon, M. Letnic & P.O. Downey, 2007) [Management Plan].
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Predation, Habitat Degradation, Competition and Disease Transmission by Feral Pigs (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2001ab) [Listing Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Predation, competition, habitat degradation and/or spread of pathogens by introduced species Swamp Orchids - Phaius australis, Phaius tancarvilleae Recovery Plan (Benwell, A.S., 1994b) [Recovery Plan].
Northern Rivers Regional Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010p) [State Recovery Plan].
Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate and/or changed fire regimes (frequency, timing, intensity) Phaius australis in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006qx) [Internet].
Northern Rivers Regional Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010p) [State Recovery Plan].
Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate prescribed regimes and/or vegetation management to control fire regimes Swamp Orchids - Phaius australis, Phaius tancarvilleae Recovery Plan (Benwell, A.S., 1994b) [Recovery Plan].
Residential and Commercial Development:Housing and Urban Areas:Habitat loss, modification and fragmentation due to urban development Swamp Orchids - Phaius australis, Phaius tancarvilleae Recovery Plan (Benwell, A.S., 1994b) [Recovery Plan].
Residential and Commercial Development:Residential and Commercial Development:Habitat modification (clearance and degradation) due to urban development Phaius australis in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006qx) [Internet].
Transportation and Service Corridors:Roads and Railroads:Development and/or maintenance of highways Inundation study (Environmental Resources Information Network, 2007) [Database].

Arditti, J. (1992). Fundamentals of orchid biology. John Wiley & Sons Inc.

Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (AGDEH) (2005p). Threat Abatement Plan for Predation, Habitat Degradation, Competition and Disease Transmission by Feral Pigs. [Online]. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/tap/pig.html.

Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG) (2006). Living plant collection - Complete search of living and dead plants (everything ever planted). Department of the Environment and Heritage, viewed on 14th November, 2006. [Online]. Available from: http://www.anbg.gov.au/anbg/plant-records/search-lc-complete.html.

Barry, S. (2005). Appendix 1: Wetland Management Profile: Coastal wet heath/sedgeland wetlands. Description and conservation status of Queensland's coastal wet heath/sedgeland wetland regional ecosystems (REs). [Online]. Ecosystem Conservation Branch, EPA. Available from: http://www.epa.qld.gov.au/wetlandinfo/resources/static/pdf/Profiles/p01733aa.pdf.

Benwell, A.S. (1994b). Swamp Orchids - Phaius australis, Phaius tancarvilleae Recovery Plan. Hurstville: NSW NPWS.

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

Field, L. (2006). Phaius species. Australian Native Orchid Society. viewed on 18th October, 2006.

Gold Coast City Council (GCCC) (2006). Gold Coast City Council flora database - Phaius australis. viewed on 3rd November, 2006. [Online]. Available from: http://www.goldcoastflorafauna.com.au/.

Harden, G.J. (ed) (1993). Flora of New South Wales, Volume Four. Kensington, NSW: University of NSW Press.

Harrison, D.K., H. Kwan & M.E. Johnston (2005). Molecular taxonomy of the Australian swamp orchids (Phaius spp.). Proceedings of the International Society on Horticulture in the Asian-Pacific Region. 694:121-124.

Jones, D.L. (1999). Personal Communication.

Lee, J. (2003). Eenie Creek Road environmental project. viewed on 24th November, 2006. [Online]. IPWEAQ 2003 state conference, Mackay. Available from: http://www.ipwea.org.au/papers/download/Lee_John.pdf.

National Herbarium of NSW (NH NSW) (2006). PlantNET - New South Wales flora online - Phaius australis. viewed on 31st October, 2006. [Online]. Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, Sydney Australia. Available from: http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Phaius~australis.

New South Wales Department of Environment and Conservation (NSW DEC) (2005b). Invasion, establishment and spread of Lantana camara - key threatening process, viewed on 31st October, 2006. [Online]. Available from: http://www.threatenedspecies.environment.nsw.gov.au/tsprofile/threat_profile.aspx?id=20044.

NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW) (1998c). Phaius australis (a tall swamp orchid) - endangered species listing. NSW Scientific Committee - final determination. [Online]. Available from: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/determinations/PhaiusAustralisEndSpListing.htm.

NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW) (2005iw). Southern Swamp Orchid - profile. [Online]. Available from: http://www.threatenedspecies.environment.nsw.gov.au/tsprofile/profile.aspx?id=10610.

Queensland Environmental Protection Agency & Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (Qld EPA & QPWS) (2006). Species of Conservation Significance, Wetland management profiles - Coastal wet heath/sedgeland wetlands. viewed on 18th October, 2006. [Online]. Available from: http://www.epa.qld.gov.au/publications?id=1733.

Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) (2006). Pacific Highway upgrade website for the Oxley Highway to Kempsey project. viewed on 30-11-06. [Online]. Available from: http://www.ghd.com.au/oxleyhway/index.htm.

Rupp, H.M.R. (1943). The Orchids of New South Wales. Sydney: Government Printers.

Searle, J. & S. Maden (2006). Flora survey report South Stradbroke Island Management Area. Environmental Planning and sustainable development section Gold Coast City Council.

Sparshott, K.M. & P.D. Bostock (1993). An assessment of rare and threatened wetlands flora and their habitats in National Estate interim listed areas on North Stradbroke Island. Qld Herbarium, Dept. Environment and Heritage.

Sunshine Coast Regional Council (2009). Maroochy Regional Bushland Botanic Gardens - Plants and Wildlife. viewed on 29th September, 2009. [Online]. Available from: http://www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/sitePage.cfm?code=mrbbg-plants-wildlife.

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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). Phaius australis in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Tue, 2 Sep 2014 22:59:55 +1000.