Plants of
South Australia
Prasophyllum sp. Waterholes (R.Bates 9037)
Pretty Waterhole 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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Prior names

Prasophyllum patens var. patens, partly

Common names

Pretty Waterhole Leek Orchid


Prasophyllum from the Greek ‘prason’ meaning a leek and ‘phyllon’ meaning a leaf, referring to the leek-like orchid leaf. The transcript name refer to the waterhole habitat of the species.

Distribution and status

Found in the lower South-east in South Australia and restricted to waterholes in river red gum flats which fill with water in winter and dry out in spring-summer. Also found in Victoria. Native. Very rare in South Australia. Rare in Victoria.
Herbarium region: South Eastern
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Terrestrial orchid with a robust, reddish stem to 30 cm tall and a single leaf-blade to 20 cm long, purple at the base. Inflorescence a crowded spike with numerous green, pink, white and brown flowers. Lateral sepals widely spreading and thrust horizontally forward, labellum white, curved back gradually at nearly 180 degrees, margins very frilly and crisped. The column wings are usually pink and exposed. Flowering between November to February. Fruits are brown papery ellipsoid capsule. Seeds are very small dark brown ellipsoid seed with an ovoid translucent brown mesh-like covering.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between November and March. 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 two populations consisting of more than 130 individuals in total were recorded from the Geegeela area and Topperwien Native Forest Reserve. Approximately 770,000 seeds (0.5 g) were banked from these two observed populations. Seed viability for these two collections was 48% and 77%. 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
BGA230,000 (0.149 g)30+11-Dec-2013DJD2815
South Eastern
BGA540,000 (0.351 g)1010-Nov-2013DJD2800
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.