Seeds of South Australia
Prasophyllum frenchii (Orchidaceae)
Slaty Leek-orchid
List of species for Prasophyllum
Display more images
Click on an image to enlarge it
Seed collecting:
December to January
Herbarium region:
South Eastern
NRM region:
South East
IBRA region
Bridgewater (NCP01)Naracoorte Coastal Plain
 Endangered   (IUCN: EN B2ab(i,ii,iii))   (Probable Decline)   [highly localised in swamps; stronghold; 1 popn in Pic Ponds actively managed in recent times]
RSCA map:
Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion. Please click the thumbnail map.
AVH map:
Australian distribution map (external link)
SA Census:
Census of South Australian plants (external link)     [genus Prasophyllum]
Name derivation:
Prasophyllum from the Greek ‘prason’ meaning a leek and ‘phyllon’ meaning a leaf, referring to the leek-like orchid leaf. Frenchii named after G. French, who collected the type specimen from 'between the Yarra and the Dandenong Ranges' in 1889.
Found only in the lower South-east in South Australia, growing in grassland, heathland and open forest on well-drained or water-retentive sand or clay loams. Also found in New South Wales and Victoria.
Native. Very rare in South Australia. Very rare in New South Wales. Rare in Victoria. Endangered in Australia under the EPBC Act.
Plant description:
Terrestrial orchid with a robust erect flowering stem to 60 cm tall. Single leaf-blade to 20 cm long and 10 mm diameter, green, apex lax, often withered at flowering. Inflorescence a loose to quite dense spike which is well exserted from the leaf with 20–65, fragrant, green to reddish brown or red flowers. Sepals to 8 mm long, dorsal sepal ovate, lateral sepals free, lanceolate, nearly parallel, erect to recurved. Petals to 7 mm long, oblong-elliptic, blunt. Labellum trullate, to 6 mm long, green or red-tinted, recurved at right angles past the middle and the base margins slightly crinkled. Flowering between October and November.
Fruit type:
Pale brown papery ellipsoid capsules along the spike.
Seed type:
Very small orange-brown ellipsoid seed with a long cylindrical translucent brown mesh-like covering.
Seed collecting:
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.
Seed cleaning:
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 viability:
For the NVC South East Orchid Project one population consisting of more than 50 individuals in total was recorded from Piccaninnie Ponds area. Approximately 540,000 seeds (0.7 g) were collected & banked from this population in 2012 in addition to the 2008 collections annotated below. Seed viability was 85%.
Seed germination:
More research is needed to understand the seed germination requirements of Prasophyllum species.  Recent in-vitro symbiotic seed germination research in Prasophyllum (including P. frenchii) by Marc Freestone & Noushka Reiter at RBGV has yielded some early positive results.
Seeds stored:
LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
of plants
Collection number
Collection location
% ViabilityStorage
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.