Plants of
South Australia
Prasophyllum odoratum
Sweet Leek-orchid,
Scented Leek-orchid
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
Least concern
Near threatened
Critically endangered
Data deficient
Coober Pedy
Mount Gambier
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Botanical art

Kath Alcock paintings: 7

Prior names

Prasophyllum patens, partly

Prasophyllum album

Prasophyllum odoratum var. album

Prasophyllum patens var. patens, partly

Common names

Sweet Leek-orchid

Scented Leek-orchid


Prasophyllum from the Greek ‘prason’ meaning a leek and ‘phyllon’ meaning a leaf, referring to the leek-like orchid leaf. Odoratum from the Latin 'odoratus' meaning to have a smell or fragrant, referring to the flowers which are often fragrant.

Distribution and status

Found in the southern part of South Australia, from the Flinedrs Ranges, Eyre Peninsula to the upper South-east, growing in in a wide range of habitats. Also found in New South Wales, Victoria and New Zealand. Native. Common in South Australia. Common in the other states.
Herbarium regions: Gairdner-Torrens, Flinders Ranges, Eastern, Eyre Peninsula, Northern Lofty, Murray, Yorke Peninsula, Southern Lofty, Kangaroo Island, South Eastern, Green Adelaide
NRM regions: Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, Eyre Peninsula, Kangaroo Island, Northern and Yorke, South Australian Murray-Darling Basin, South East
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Terrestrial orchid with slender stem to 80 cm high and a single leaf-blade to 50 cm long and 8 mm diameter, purplish at base. Inflorescence a dense to open spike to 20 cm long with up to 50 white with greenish or reddish markings, often fragrant, flowers. Dorsal sepal lanceolate to obovate, to 12 mm long, decurved to deflexed, lateral sepals to 12 mm long, usually free to base and widely divergent. Petals linear to lanceolate, to 12 mm long, white or with a reddish stripe, margins wavy. Labellum to 12 mm long and 4 mm wide, ovate to lanceolate with lamina recurved to reflexed and protruding between the lateral sepals, upper margins very crisped to ruffled. Callus plate usually bright green. Flowering between October and January. Fruits are pale brown papery ellipsoid capsules along the spike.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between November and February. 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. For the NVC South East Orchid Project three populations consisting of more than 100 individuals were recorded from Bangham Conservation Park and Border Swamp. Approximately 4030,000 seeds (1.49 g) were banked. Seed viability ranged from 72% to 79%. 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.

Seeds stored:
LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
of plants
Collection number
Collection location
% ViabilityStorage
BGA400,000 (0.256 g)93-Nov-2013KHB804
South Eastern
BGA1,720,000 (1.109 g)50+KHB814
South Eastern
BGA1,910,000 (1.234 g)40+21-Nov-2013KHB820
South Eastern
BGA19,000 (0.014 g)315-Dec-2015KHB888
Southern Lofty
BGA197,500 (0.14 g)15+22-Nov-2018DJD3797
South Eastern
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.