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 Critically Endangered
Listing and Conservation Advices Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Prasophyllum taphanyx (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008adj) [Conservation Advice].
 
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Prasophyllum taphanyx (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008adw) [Listing Advice].
 
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, "the species is known from only one location, consisted of only three mature individuals in 2001, and is subject to a number of land-use threats, which can be better managed with a recovery plan in place (14/11/2008)".
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans
Other EPBC Act 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
Inclusion of species in the list of threatened species under section 178 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (59) (14/11/2008) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2008m) [Legislative Instrument].
 
State Government
    Documents and Websites
TAS:Threatened Species Notesheet - Prasophyllum taphanyx (Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (Tas. DPIPWE), 2009f) [Information Sheet].
TAS:Prasophyllum taphanyx (Graveside Leek-orchid): Species Management Profile for Tasmania's Threatened Species Link (Threatened Species Section (TSS), 2014be) [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 taphanyx [81615]
Family Orchidaceae:Orchidales:Liliopsida:Magnoliophyta:Plantae
Species author D.L.Jones
Infraspecies author  
Reference D.L. Jones (2004), The Orchadian 14(8): 373-374
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 taphanyx

Common name: Graveside Leek-orchid

The Graveside Leek-orchid is a small fleshy terrestrial orchid with a single green onion-like leaf up to 30 cm long. The flowering stem emerges from the end of the leaf and has a spike of small pinkish-purplish flowers. The dark-green solitary leaf is erect, 20–30 cm long, 3–5 mm wide and circular in cross-section; the base of the leaf is 2–4 mm in diameter, white or purplish. The free part of the leaf is suberect, about 16 cm long, partly withered at flowering time. Fifteen to twenty-five flowers grow as a moderately dense spike 5.5–6.5 cm long. The flowers open widely, 5–6 mm across, are crowded, light green and pinkish cream, with pinkish to purplish petals and labellum, and are strongly scented (Jones 2004c).

The Graveside Leek-orchid is endemic to Tasmania, being known from a single population at Campbell Town in the State's Northern Midlands. Three plants were recorded from a 20 m by 5 m area in 2001, but the species has not been seen in subsequent years (Jones 2004c; Leonard 2002; TSS 2004b; TSS n.d., unpubl. data).

The species occurs in Tasmania's Northern Natural Resource Management region.

The extent of occurrence of the Graveside Leek-orchid is 0.01 ha, based on observations of three plants in 2001 (Leonard 2002; TSS 2004b).

The type locality is the only location from which this species is known. It is highly likely that the Graveside Leek-orchid plants at the Campbell Town site are the last remnant of a once more widespread population that has been destroyed by land clearance and/or conversion to exotic pasture (TSS 2004b).

Tasmania's Midlands were subject to intensive botanical surveys over a period of 20 years as the significance of its remnant native grasslands began to be appreciated (Kirkpatrick et al. 1988), with a particular focus on threatened orchids (Jones et al. 1999). Surveys of potential Leek-orchid habitat in the Midlands undertaken as part of several National Heritage Trust funded projects include:

  • Management and Recovery of Tasmanian Grassland Orchid Species (1999)
  • Native grassland management in cemeteries, golf courses and road reserves (with management plans prepared for approximately 20 sites targeted in 2001–2003; for example, Leonard 2002)
  • Bushcare extension surveys of private property (1998–2003; reports held by the Biodiversity Conservation Branch, Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment (DPIWE), Hobart).

    Given the history of survey effort, it is unlikely that a new population of the Graveside Leek-orchid will be found elsewhere. The grasslands at the type locality have been searched each year since the orchid's discovery in October 2001, as have the diverse native grasslands at the nearby Campbell Town golf course (Jones et al. 1999; Nicholson 2000; TSS 2004b).

  • Three mature plants were recorded in the 2001 flowering period from the type locality at Campbell Town; the species has not been recorded from this or any other site in subsequent years (TSS 2004b; TSS n.d., unpubl data). Numerous non-flowering orchids were observed at the site in 2001, but the identity of the species could not be confirmed (Gilfedder 2006, pers. comm.; TSS n.d., unpubl. data).

    It is not known whether this species undergoes extreme natural fluctuations, but based on the experience with other Prasophyllum species, one might reasonably expect year-to-year fluctuations in the number of flowering plants in response to, as yet, undetermined environmental triggers (Jones et al. 1999).

    The Graveside Leek-orchid is found in native grassland dominated by Kangaroo Grass (Themeda triandra) and Spear grasses (Austrostipa spp.). It grows in well-drained basaltic loams in areas with an annual rainfall of 560 mm, at altitudes of 220 m (Jones 2004c; Leonard 2002).

    The Graveside Leek-orchid flowers in late October and early November. Nothing is known of the conditions required to stimulate flowering, nor its pollination mechanisms. This species is believed to have a very short flowering period, as it was found in fruit two weeks after being in full flower (Wapstra et al. 2008).

    Orchids have a complex and poorly understood interrelationship with species-specific mycorrhizal fungi and insect pollinators (Jones et al. 1999). Native bees, wasps and beetles are known to be effective pollinators for other Prasophyllum species, while some species can also be self-pollinating (Jones et al. 1999).

    It is likely that the greatest threat to the Graveside Leek-orchid in the past has been land clearing. Native grasslands on basalt in Tasmania's Midlands have been decimated since European settlement, with remnants being largely confined to small pockets on private property, roadsides, rail reserves and country cemeteries (Kirkpatrick et al. 1988; McDougall & Kirkpatrick 1994).

    The most serious future threats to the Graveside Leek-orchid are considered to be a change in the current slashing regime, the application of fertilisers or off-target herbicide damage, weed invasion, and development at the site (TSS 2004b).

    The addition of fertilisers to native grassland dramatically changes the soil of an area, usually to the detriment of orchids. Not only are orchids hampered by the increased competition created by invigorated growth of pasture plants and weeds, but they also suffer as their mycorrhizal fungus takes up phosphorus and rapidly concentrates phosphates to a toxic level (Jones et al. 1999).

    Changes in fire frequency or grazing/slashing regimes may also have an adverse impact on orchid persistence. As they require light and some space, orchids may be shaded out in tussock grasslands that are allowed to grow rank without some form of disturbance. Leek-orchids do possess tubers, and might therefore be expected to persist in a dormant state during unfavourable conditions. However, the longer the period without flowering and fresh seed production, the less likely must be the long-term persistence of a species in an area (Jones et al. 1999). The precise response of the Graveside Leek-orchid to fire and/or slashing is unknown.

    The extremely localised distribution of the Graveside Leek-orchid means that it faces a high risk of extinction in the near future.

    Given that only three plants have been recorded, low genetic diversity may be reasonably suspected as being a threat to the species' survival.

    Minister's reason for recovery plan decision

    The Tasmanian Government's Tasmanian Orchids Recovery Plan addresses this species and may be suitable for adoption after minor variation.

    The Threatened Species Scientific Committee (2008adj) recommends the following local and regional priority recovery and threat abatement actions:

  • Protect areas of native vegetation which contain populations of the species or which could support populations in the future.
  • Develop and implement suitable fire, slashing/mowing and weed management plans to benefit the species.
  • Investigate options for establishing additional populations.
  • Undertake appropriate seed collection and storage for future planting.
  • Undertake propagation trials to determine the requirements for successful establishment.
  • Monitor the known site during spring to identify any changes in number of individuals.
  • Prevent damage by digging machinery and off-target herbicides, and avoid the use of fertilisers.
  • Develop and implement voluntary conservation arrangements.

    Woody weeds at the Graveside Leek-orchid site are being controlled by a local volunteer, while annual mowing of the native grasslands is undertaken in mid to late summer. The timing and frequency of the mowing has been prescribed to maintain the health of the grasslands, whilst allowing the spring-flowering Graveside Leek-orchid to complete its life cycle (Leonard 2002).

    Natural year-to-year fluctuations in the number of flowering Graveside Leek-orchid plants in response to climatic conditions make any assessment of the success of the aforementioned recovery actions problematic. However, the maintenance of suitable grassland habitat free of threatening weeds is fundamental to enabling the species' long-term survival at the site, as weed invasion is a key threat to this species (TSS 2004b).

    Personnel from the Threatened Species Section (DPIWE) and volunteers will monitor the condition of the grasslands annually. If flowering plants are not observed in the period 2006–2010 it is recommended that small-scale patch-burning of the native grasslands be undertaken in an attempt to stimulate flowering (by DPIWE in conjunction with the landowners) (Schahinger 2005, pers. comm).

    It is recommended that the owners of the site be approached in regard to the placement of a Conservation covenant under the Tasmanian Nature Conservation Act 2002 (the relevant agency is the Protected Areas on Private Land program (DPIWE)) (Schahinger 2005, pers. comm.).

  • Specimens of Graveside Leek-orchid were first collected in Tasmania in 2001, with the species being formally described by Jones (2004c). This paper also included notes on the species' distribution, ecology and conservation status, and concluded that the species was 'critically endangered and teetering on the brink of extinction'.

    Leonard (2002) prepared an informal management plan for the Campbell Town site, though prescriptions tend to be generic in nature, the focus being the management of native grasslands rather than specific species.

    Information relevant to the conservation of the Graveside Leek-orchid can also be found in the Threatened Tasmanian Orchids Flora Recovery Plan 2006–2010 (TSS 2006a). This plan states that the recovery of the Graveside Leek-orchid requires negotiations with land managers.

    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:Habitat degradation caused by intensive grazing/feedlots Commonwealth Listing Advice on Prasophyllum taphanyx (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008adw) [Listing Advice].
    Agriculture and Aquaculture:Agriculture and Aquaculture:Land clearing, habitat fragmentation and/or habitat degradation Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Prasophyllum taphanyx (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008adj) [Conservation Advice].
    Commonwealth Listing Advice on Prasophyllum taphanyx (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008adw) [Listing Advice].
    Agriculture and Aquaculture:Livestock Farming and Grazing:Habitat loss and modification due to clearance of native vegetation and pasture improvements Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Prasophyllum taphanyx (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008adj) [Conservation Advice].
    Commonwealth Listing Advice on Prasophyllum taphanyx (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008adw) [Listing Advice].
    Climate Change and Severe Weather:Habitat Shifting and Alteration:Habitat loss, modification and/or degradation Commonwealth Listing Advice on Prasophyllum taphanyx (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008adw) [Listing Advice].
    Climate Change and Severe Weather:Habitat Shifting and Alteration:Habitat modification, destruction and alteration due to changes in land use patterns Commonwealth Listing Advice on Prasophyllum taphanyx (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008adw) [Listing Advice].
    Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Indirect Ecosystem Effects:Loss and/or fragmentation of habitat and/or subpopulations Commonwealth Listing Advice on Prasophyllum taphanyx (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008adw) [Listing Advice].
    Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Indirect Ecosystem Effects:Restricted geographical distribution (area of occupancy and extent of occurrence) Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Prasophyllum taphanyx (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008adj) [Conservation Advice].
    Commonwealth Listing Advice on Prasophyllum taphanyx (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008adw) [Listing Advice].
    Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Human induced disturbance due to unspecified activities Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Prasophyllum taphanyx (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008adj) [Conservation Advice].
    Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Mechanical disturbance during construction, maintanance or recreational activities Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Prasophyllum taphanyx (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008adj) [Conservation Advice].
    Commonwealth Listing Advice on Prasophyllum taphanyx (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008adw) [Listing Advice].
    Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation by weeds Commonwealth Listing Advice on Prasophyllum taphanyx (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008adw) [Listing Advice].
    Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Slashing and herbicide application for weed control Commonwealth Listing Advice on Prasophyllum taphanyx (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008adw) [Listing Advice].
    Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate and/or changed fire regimes (frequency, timing, intensity) Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Prasophyllum taphanyx (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008adj) [Conservation Advice].
    Commonwealth Listing Advice on Prasophyllum taphanyx (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008adw) [Listing Advice].
    Pollution:Airborne Agricultural pollutants:Herbicide drift Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Prasophyllum taphanyx (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008adj) [Conservation Advice].
    Species Stresses:Indirect Species Effects:Low numbers of individuals Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Prasophyllum taphanyx (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008adj) [Conservation Advice].

    Gilfedder, L. (2006). Personal communication.

    Jones, D.L. (2004c). Two new species of Prasophyllum R.Br. (Orchidaceae) from Tasmania. The Orchadian. 14 (8):372-377.

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

    Kirkpatrick, J., L. Gilfedder & R. Fensham (1988). City Parks and Cemeteries: Tasmania's remnant grasslands and grassy woodlands. Hobart, Tasmanian Conservation Trust.

    Leonard, S. (2002). Management plan for conservation of native grassland: St John's cemetery, Campbell Town. Greening Australia, Hobart.

    McDougall, K. & Kirkpatrick, J.B. (eds) (1994). Conservation of lowland native grasslands in south-eastern Australia. World Wide Fund for Nature Australia.

    Nicholson, R. (2000). Rarities in the Rough: playing golf amongst rare and endangered plants. Management plan for the Campbell Town golf course. Nature Conservation Branch, Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment, Hobart.

    Schahinger R. (2005). Personal communication.

    Threatened Species Scientific Committee (2008adj). Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Prasophyllum taphanyx. [Online]. Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/pubs/81615-conservation-advice.pdf.

    Threatened Species Section (TSS) (2004b). Prasophyllum taphanyx Tasmanian Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 nomination. Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment, Hobart.

    Threatened Species Section (TSS) (2006a). Flora Recovery Plan: Tasmanian Threatened Orchids 2006-2010. [Online]. Hobart, Tasmania: DPIWE. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/tasmanian-orchid.html.

    Threatened Species Section (TSS) (no date). Unpublished data held by the Threatened Species Section. Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment (DPIWE), Hobart.

    Wapstra, M., N. Roberts, H. Wapstra & A. Wapstra (2008). Flowering Times of Tasmanian Orchids: A Practical Guide for Field Botanists. [Online]. Self-published by the authors (April 2008 version). Available from: http://www.dpipwe.tas.gov.au/inter.nsf/Attachments/LJEM-7DX2BN?open.

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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 taphanyx in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Fri, 3 Oct 2014 02:53:51 +1000.