Prasophyllum

Prasophyllum is a genus in the Orchidaceae family . Species of this genus are commonly called "Leek Orchids.' The botanical name is derived from the Greek words prason (leek) and phyllon (leaf), referring the leek-like leaf. These deciduous terrestrial orchids occur in Australia, Tasmania and a few species in New Zealand, growing on poor, sandy soils in temperate heaths and grasslands. All species have prominent subterranean, tuberous, storage organs. They are sometimes called root-stem tuberoids, because their pole incorporates stem tissue. Jones and Clement in 2004 segregated Chiloterus and Mecopodum from this genus, but this has yet to be widely accepted.


Prasophyllum cucullatum syn. Chiloterus cucullatus or the Hooded Leek Orchid is found on rocky or sandy soils in southwestern Western Australia. This species is smaller than Prasophyllum gibbosum with a spike of small white and brown sweetly scented flowers 0.05–0.2 m high. The lateral sepals form a hood in front of the lip. Photos taken September 2007 adjacent to a rock outcrop in southwestern Western Australia by Bob Rutemoeller and Mary Sue Ittner. We think this is this species.

Chiloterus cucullatus,  Bob RutemoellerChiloterus cucullatus, Mary Sue IttnerChiloterus cucullatus, Mary Sue Ittner

Prasophyllum hians is known by the common name of Yawning Leek Orchid. It is found in open forest and woodlands in well drained winter wet areas in southwestern Western Australia. It blooms from September to November, often after fires. It has a hollow onion-like leaf and a crowded spike of 20 to 50 upside-down small (.8 cm) white flowers (green to brown sepals and white petals with a crinkly white lip.) Photos taken in Porongorup Park in September 2007 by Bob Rutemoeller.

Prasophyllum hians, Porongorup, Bob RutemoellerPrasophyllum hians, Porongorup, Bob Rutemoeller

Prasophyllum ovale or the Little Leek Orchid has white tiny flowers with green and purplish-red markings in a loose spike of 3 to 6 inches. It blooms from September to October and is found in Western Australia in sand or clay loam in low lying areas. Photos below from Bob Rutemoeller and Mary Sue Ittner were taken of a plant seen in the Stirling Range National Park, Western Australia, September 2007. We can’t be absolutely sure of the species but this is our best guess.

Prasophyllum ovale possibly, Stirlings, Bob RutemoellerPrasophyllum ovale possibly, Stirlings, Mary Sue Ittner

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