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 milfordense (Milford Leek-orchid) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2001bf) [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:Threatened Species Listing Statement-Milford leek orchid Prasophyllum milfordense (Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (TAS DIPWE), 2007d) [Information Sheet].
TAS:Prasophyllum milfordense (Milford Leek-orchid): Species Management Profile for Tasmania's Threatened Species Link (Threatened Species Section (TSS), 2014aw) [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 milfordense [64950]
Family Orchidaceae:Orchidales:Liliopsida:Magnoliophyta:Plantae
Species author D.L. Jones
Infraspecies author  
Reference Austral. Orchid Res. 3: 107 (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 milfordense

Common name: Milford Leek-orchid

The Milford Leek-orchid is a deciduous terrestrial herb, with inflorescence growing from 50–80 cm tall (Jones 1998d; Jones et al. 1999; D.L. Jones 2001, pers. comm.). Flowers have white petals with green to purple markings and crinkled margins. The labellum is white, and sharply recurved at right angles near the middle, often protuding through the lateral sepals, which are greenish-brown and wide apart. The callus of the labellum is flesh, green and channeled centrally to extend just beyond the recurved bend on the labellum. The petals widen near their apex and are upswept and incurved, and approximately 6 mm long and 2.2 mm wide. Each flower is 9–12 mm long and 8–10 mm wide. The leaf of the Prasophyllum milfordense is dark green with a red to purple base, the free part 6–12 cm long (Jones 1998d; TSS 2007d).

Prasophyllum milfordense is part of the P. truncatum complex of orchids (Jones 1998d).

This species is endemic to southern Tasmania, where it is known only from the type locality at a property near Cambridge, in the Hobart area, where it is locally common (Jones 1998d; TSS 2007d). A single plant was found approximately 700 m from the known population on Hobart Airport land in 1995, however this plant has not been seen since (TSS 2007d).

The extent of occurrence and the area of occupancy would be considered approximate as the species is known only from the one population. Plants are known from an area of approximately 5 ha. However, most plants have been observed within less than 1 ha (TSS 2007d).

Surveys are conducted by the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industry, Water and Environment (DPIWE) annually to gather baseline data for a number of threatened orchid taxa within Tasmania (Larcombe 2008).

The total population figure of the Milford Leek-orchid was 200 in 2000. When surveyed in 2006–2007, this figure had reduced to 20 (Larcombe 2008).

Many orchid species may remain dormant within a population due to environmental factors or their individual life-histories (Larcombe 2008); therefore defining a total population figure for this species is difficult.

This species grows in sedgy open woodland dominated by large trees of Manna Gum, Eucalyptus viminalis, with a dense groundstorey consisting mainly of Lomandra longifolia. It grows at altitudes of around 20 m above sea level in grey sandy loam (Jones 1998d; Jones et al. 1999; TSS 2007d).

Flowering occurs from late October to early December (Jones 1998d). Reproduction is solely from seed and the flowers are insect pollinated (D.L. Jones 2001, pers. comm.).

Suitable habitat for the Milford Leek-orchid has largely been cleared for agriculture (Jones 1998d). Habitat management, weeds, and grazing are all identified as threats to the Milford Leek-orchid (Larcombe 2008). The Milford Leek-orchid is currently managed sympathetically by the land owners where it occurs, seen through the fencing of 2 ha of known habitat. However management of the species on site may require further actions as the species may favour a level of disturbance, such as from grazing or irregular hot summer fires to maintain an open habitat for colonization. Long-term lack of fire may lead to a dense crowded understorey that potentially may outcompete the Milford Leek-orchid (TSS 2007d). Grazing and damage by rabbits is seen as an ongoing threat (TSS 2007d). Illegal collection has also been identified as a major threat facing Orchids (TSS 2007d).

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.

The land owners of the site of the Milford Leek-orchid are working with DPIWE to undertake a Vegetation Management Covenant for the population (TSS 2007d), though under Tasmanian legislation this would not be an 'in perpetuity' covenant.

A rabbit-proof fence has also been erected around 2 ha of habitat where the species occurs, and a fire management plan has been prepared (TSS 2007d).

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 The Orchids of Tasmania (Jones, D.L., H. Wapstra, P. Tonelli & S. Harris, 1999) [Book].
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Prasophyllum milfordense (Milford Leek-orchid) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2001bf) [Listing Advice].
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:Restricted geographical distribution (area of occupancy and extent of occurrence) Commonwealth Listing Advice on Prasophyllum milfordense (Milford Leek-orchid) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2001bf) [Listing Advice].
Residential and Commercial Development:Housing and Urban Areas:Habitat loss, modification and fragmentation due to urban development The Orchids of Tasmania (Jones, D.L., H. Wapstra, P. Tonelli & S. Harris, 1999) [Book].
Species Stresses:Indirect Species Effects:Low numbers of individuals Commonwealth Listing Advice on Prasophyllum milfordense (Milford Leek-orchid) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2001bf) [Listing Advice].

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., 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.

Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (TAS DIPWE) (2007d). Threatened Species Listing Statement-Milford leek orchid Prasophyllum milfordense. [Online]. Available from:$FILE/Prasophyllum%20milfordense%20LS.pdf.

Threatened Species Section (TSS) (2006a). Flora Recovery Plan: Tasmanian Threatened Orchids 2006-2010. [Online]. Hobart, Tasmania: DPIWE. 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). Prasophyllum milfordense in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: Accessed Sat, 26 Jul 2014 14:16:51 +1000.