Nature conservation

Threatened species

Eastern Australian Underground Orchid - profile

Indicative distribution

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The areas shown in pink and/purple are the sub-regions where the species or community is known or predicted to occur. They may not occur thoughout the sub-region but may be restricted to certain areas. ( click here to see geographic restrictions). The information presented in this map is only indicative and may contain errors and omissions.
Scientific name: Rhizanthella slateri
Conservation status in NSW: Vulnerable
Commonwealth status: Endangered
Gazetted date: 06 Dec 2002
Profile last updated: 20 Aug 2019


An orchid with a whitish, fleshy underground stem to 15 cm long and 15 mm diameter. The flowering heads mature below the soil surface or may extend to 2 cm above the ground. Each flower head has up to 30, tubular, purplish flowers.


Occurs from south-east Queensland to south-east NSW. In NSW, currently known from fewer than 10 locations, including near Bulahdelah, the Watagan Mountains, the Blue Mountains, Wiseman's Ferry area, Agnes Banks and near Nowra.

Habitat and ecology

  • Habitat requirements are poorly understood and no particular vegetation type has been associated with the species, although it is known to occur in sclerophyll forest.
  • Highly cryptic given that it grows almost completely below the soil surface, with flowers being the only part of the plant that can occur above ground. Therefore usually located only when the soil is disturbed.
  • Flowers September to November.

Regional distribution and habitat

Click on a region below to view detailed distribution, habitat and vegetation information.


Recovery strategies

Activities to assist this species

Information sources

IBRA Bioregion IBRA Subregion Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region
NSW North CoastKaruah Manning Known None
Other StateJervis Bay Territory Predicted None
South Eastern HighlandsBungonia Predicted None
South Eastern HighlandsKanangra Predicted None
Sydney BasinBurragorang Predicted None
Sydney BasinCumberland Predicted None
Sydney BasinEttrema Predicted None
Sydney BasinIllawarra Predicted None
Sydney BasinJervis Known None
Sydney BasinMoss Vale Predicted None
Sydney BasinPittwater Known None
Sydney BasinSydney Cataract Predicted None
Sydney BasinWollemi Predicted None
Sydney BasinWyong Predicted None
Sydney BasinYengo Known None