Plants of
South Australia
Prasophyllum calcicola
Limestone Leek-orchid
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
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Near threatened
Critically endangered
Data deficient
Coober Pedy
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Botanical art

Kath Alcock paintings: 2

Prior names

Prasophyllum macrostachyum

Common names

Limestone Leek-orchid


Prasophyllum from the Greek 'prason' meaning a leek and 'phyllon' meaning a leaf, referring to the leek-like orchid leaf. Calcicola from the Latin 'calx' meaning lime and 'colo' meaning to inhabit, referring to the coastal calcareous habitat of the species.

Distribution and status

Found along the coast on Eyre Peninsula, Yorke Peninsula and Kangaroo Island in South Australia, growing on calcareous soils or in shallow soil pockets on sheet limestone under mall and shrub. Also found in Western Australia. Native. Uncommon in South Australia. Common in Western Australia.
Herbarium regions: Eyre Peninsula, Yorke Peninsula, Kangaroo Island
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Diminutive terrestrial orchid to 10 cm high, slender but rigidly erect with leaf almost filiform, base red or maroon. Inflorescence a loose spike with few to 20 wholly green or green with red edges flowers, standing well out from the red spike. Sepal lanceolate, petals only 2 mm long. Labellum green with maroon tints or wholly green, recurved at right angles near the middle. Flowering between late August to October. Fruits are brown papery ellipsoid capsules along the spike. Seeds are very small orange-brown ellipsoid seed with a long cylindrical translucent brown mesh-like covering.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between October and December. 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, refrigerator or in liquid nitrogen. Seed germination in orchids is difficult in the absence of symbiotic mycorrhizal fungi. More research is needed to understand the requirements for seed germination in Prasophyllum species.

Fire response

Obligate re-spouter and re-seeder.

Longevity: ?? years

Time to flowering: ??? year

Recovery work

In 2020-2021 this species was assessed post-fire in 1 year and 2 year old fire scars. Further populations will be assessed and seeds collected on Kangaroo Island in 2021–2022. Germination screening testing the response to fire cues will be undertaken in 2021.This project was supported by the UK Bushfire Fund program.

Seeds stored:
LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
of plants
Collection number
Collection location
% ViabilityStorage
BGA118,200 (0.085 g)1523-Oct-2018DJD3803
Yorke Peninsula
BGA84,000 (0.060 g)113-Nov-2022BKB93
Yorke Peninsula
Location: BGA — the seeds are stored at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, MSB — the seeds are stored at the Millennium Seed Bank, Kew, England.
Number of plants: This is the number of plants from which the seeds were collected.
Collection location: The Herbarium of South Australia's region name.
% Viability: Percentage of filled healthy seeds determined by a cut test or x-ray.