Plants of
South Australia
Gastrodia vescula
Lesser Potato Orchid
Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
Least concern
Near threatened
Critically endangered
Data deficient
Coober Pedy
Mount Gambier
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Gastrodia from the Greek 'gastrodes' meaning pot-bellied; referring to the swollen, sometimes bulbous flower.Vescula from the Latin ‘vesculus’ meaning little, weak or thin; describing several aspects of the plant.

Distribution and status

Found in the lower South-east in South Australia from Glencoe to Mt Gambier, growing in leaf litter over damp, grey, acid sands under dense Leptospermum or in open black-wood woodland, forest and scrubs. Also found in Victoria. Native. Very rare in South Australia. Very rare in Victoria.
Herbarium region: South Eastern
NRM region: South East
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Leafless, dwarfed herb with weak stem, often twisted, to 10 cm tall, brittle, light brown and shiny, with many bracts at base. Flowers 1-4, not fragrant, on short pedicels, about 10 mm across, erect or nodding, light brown, tubular, shiny, rarely opening but much swollen when they do; perianth tips white. Labellum 10 mm by 3 mm, white, within the floral tube; lateral lobes 2 mm long, oblong, main lobe to 4 mm, crenulate, the apical margins irregular. Column to 9 mm long, linear, conspicuously wrinkled; anther cap verrucose. Flowering between November to December. Fruits are brown papery ellipsoid capsule.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between December and January. Collect fat capsules as they start to dry and turn brown. Pods will split and release the seeds quickly and will require monitoring. To increase the chances of collecting mature pods, it is recommended that a small breathable bag (ie. Organza bags) be used to enclose the developing capsules. Place the capsules in a container that will hold fine seeds and leave to dry for a few weeks or until the capsule split. Then carefully hold the capsule and tap it gently to release the seeds. Store the seeds with a desiccant such as dried silica beads or dry rice, in an air tight container in a cool and dry place or in liquid nitrogen.