Variable Midge 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: Genoplesium insigne
Conservation status in NSW: Critically Endangered
Commonwealth status: Critically Endangered
Gazetted date: 17 May 2015
Profile last updated: 01 Dec 2017


A terrestrial orchid with a solitary cylindrical leaf that encloses the flowering stem. The leaf is 6 to 15 cm long, 0.15 cm wide, and dark green with a reddish base. The flowering stem is 9 to 18 cm tall, bearing 5 to 12 flowers in a moderately dense spike, 15-25 mm long. Flowers are dark purple and approximately 5 mm in diameter. The species was reclassified to Corunastylis insignis in Orchadian 13(10): 461 (2002). The species is currently listed by the Commonwealth as Corunastylis insignis.


Recorded from four localities between Chain Valley Bay and Wyong in Wyong local government area.  A small population also occurs within Lake Macquarie LGA.

Habitat and ecology

  • Grows in patches of Themeda australis (Kangaroo Grass) amongst shrubs and sedges in heathland and woodland. The presence of other orchid species and therefore micorrhyza assemblages can, though not always, be an indication of suitable habitat.
  • Associated vegetation at known populations is described as dry sclerophyll woodland dominated by Eucalyptus haemastoma (Scribbly Gum), Corymbia gummifera (Red Bloodwood), Angophora costata (Smooth-barked Apple) and Allocasuarina littoralis (Black She-oak). The species has been recorded in disturbed locations, including in areas lacking upper vegetation strata. Most sites have a mostly native understorey.
  • Population numbers of flowering plants fluctuates between years, with some individuals appearing to remain dormant below ground and emerging under favourable conditions. The number of individuals in the meta-population is therefore an estimate and likely to be around 50 plants - monitoring of the populations through the Saving our Species program is informing population size.
  • Flowering period is typically from September to October, but has been recorded flowering in mid to late November to early December. Note, this species is extremely difficult to locate even when in flower and cannot be definitively identified from leaf alone. Local climatic conditions appears to play a key role in flowering events, with rainfall possibly driving flowering. In drier periods, initial signs of above ground activity may emerge (e.g. leaf and spike), though flowers have been observed to wither in the absence of suitable conditions (e.g. soil moisture).

Regional distribution and habitat

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Recovery strategies

Activities to assist this species

Information sources

IBRA Bioregion IBRA Subregion Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region
Sydney BasinWyong Known None