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Gaping leek orchid

Current status

[Photo of gaping leek orchid by A. & H. Wapstra.]

The Gaping leek orchid (Prasophyllum correctum) is listed as endangered in our Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 and the Federal Act.

Where was it found?

There is a very interesting story relating to this orchid. It was discovered on Campbell Town golf course by one of our wildlife officers, not during a botanical survey, but whilst retrieving a ball that had gone off course! A sample was sent to David Jones, Australia's foremost orchid expert in Canberra. Not only had this species never been recorded in Tasmania before but it is also an extremely rare Australian species. On the mainland there is a Recovery Plan in motion to prevent its extinction.

Why it is nationally threatened?

It is only found in the one location in Bairnsdale, Victoria with less than 100 plants left on a railway verge. This is all that remains of what used to be a widespread plant of our native grasslands. Now that it has been found in Tasmania it certainly fits the criteria for inclusion as a threatened species under Tasmania's Threatened Species Protection Act 1995. This just shows how quickly things can change and why continual research and updating is always necessary.

The gaping leek orchid is very numerous at the Campbell Town golf course but despite searching has not been found outside the grounds. This may be because Campbell Town is an agricultural district and native grasslands have disappeared due to pastoral development.

What's being done?

About a dozen other orchids occur at this golf course, including another new species for Tasmania, Prasophyllum pyriforme. The golf course is a remnant of once common native grassland. Leek orchids benefit from the occasional removal of competition through fire, grazing and slashing. Management of the golf course has been slashing and mowing which seems to have benefited the orchids. They do not occur on the greens as one of the main orchid threats is the use of fertilisers and ploughing.

This golf course is an example of how native flora can live together with humans, or at least golfers. These leek orchids owe their existence in Tasmania to the management of the land as a golf course. The Parks and Wildlife Service will be talking to the Golf Club and green keeper to ensure the orchids remain safe. It is almost certain that this is their last stand in Tasmania.

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