Nature conservation

Threatened species

Greenhood 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: Pterostylis cobarensis
Conservation status in NSW: Vulnerable
Commonwealth status: Not listed
Profile last updated: 01 Nov 2022


Terrestrial orchid with 7-11, narrow-elliptic leaves forming a basal rosette, each 1.5-2.5 cm long and 5-8 mm wide. Flowers 3-8 on stems to 40 cm high, with 3-5 closely sheathing stem leaves. The flowers are transparent with brown and green markings, each flower about 1.2 cm long.


 Recorded from Bourke, Nyngan, Cobar, Nymagee, Warren, Gilgandra, Narrabri, Coonabarabran districts. Recorded from a number of reserves and state forests including Mutawintji, Gundabooka, Culgoa, Warrumbungles National Parks, Quanda, Yathong Nature Reserves, Mt Grenfell Historic Site and Bimbilwindi and Pilliga East State Forests. There are also records from the Darling Downs district of Queensland.

Habitat and ecology

  • Habitats are eucalypt woodlands, open mallee or Callitris shrublands on low stony ridges and slopes in skeletal sandy-loam soils.
  • Associated species include Eucalyptus morrisii, E. viridis, E. intertexta, E. vicina, Callitris glaucophylla, Geijera parviflora, Casuarina cristata, Acacia doratoxylon, Senna spp. and Eremophila spp.
  • Flowers from September to November. Vegetative reproduction is not common in this group of Greenhoods, but some species may form more than one dropper annually. Plants are deciduous and die back to the large, underground tubers after seed release. New rosettes are produced following soaking autumn and winter rains.
  • Pollinated by the males of small gnats which are attracted to the flower by some pseudosexual perfume.
  • The group includes some of the most drought tolerant orchids in Australia. Survival strategies include the large tuberoids which store moisture, the overlapping rosette leaves which trap moisture and direct it to the root zone, and the tendency to grow in sites of litter accumulation and near rocks where run-off is concentrated.
  • Pterostylis cobarensis occurs as frequent to abundant plants (sometimes occasional) in usually very localised populations.
  • Within the Macquarie River valley, Pterostylis cobarensis only recorded from igneous rock outcrops with habitat of Eucalyptus dwyeri - Alstonia constricta open woodland. No records have been made from the surrounding alluvial soil floodplains, just on shallow sandy-loam on rock outcrops.
  • Annual monitoring of a rocky hill within the Macquarie Valley north of Warren has only recorded orchid emergence twice in six years between 2016-2021, with both occasions having significantly above-average rainfall in the season prior to monitoring in October. This period included four consecutive years of no orchid emergence.
  • With regards to the Macquarie River valley sites, while the species can be found in more exposed sites on rocky hills, the majority of plants are located at the bases of larger rock shelves or in crevises between rocks that provide shelter and water accumulation.
  • Annual monitoring of one population in the Macquarie River valley near Warren has recorded the number of flowers per stem to vary from 1-5, with the most frequent being 2-3.

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
Brigalow Belt SouthPilliga Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthPilliga Outwash Known None
Broken Hill ComplexMootwingee Downs Known None
Cobar PeneplainBarnato Downs Known None
Cobar PeneplainCanbelego Downs Known None
Cobar PeneplainNymagee Known None
Darling Riverine PlainsBogan-Macquarie Known None
Mulga LandsNebine Plains Known None
Murray Darling DepressionSouth Olary Plain Known None