Myrtle rust (Austropuccinia psidii) has been found in Northland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Taranaki.
The fungus attacks various species of plants in the Myrtaceae family, also known as the myrtle family. It is found in many parts of the world including New Caledonia and all along Australia’s eastern seaboard.
Myrtle rust spores are microscopic and can easily spread across large distances by wind, or via insects, birds, people, or machinery.
It is thought the fungus arrived in New Zealand carried by strong winds from Australia. There have been a number of significant weather events capable of transporting spores here and the discovery of the disease in large, established trees lends weight to this assumption.
MPI and the Department of Conservation (DOC), with the help of local iwi, the nursery industry and local authorities are running a large operation to determine the scale of the situation and contain and control myrtle rust in the areas it has been found.
If you think you’ve seen the symptoms of myrtle rust, don’t touch it.
- Call the MPI Exotic Pest and Disease Hotline immediately on 0800 80 99 66.
- If you have a camera or phone camera, take clear photos, including the whole plant, the whole affected leaf, and a close-up of the spores or affected area of the plant.
- Don’t touch it or try to collect samples as this may increase the spread of the disease.
Don’t move myrtle plants or green waste out of Controlled Area
MPI has introduced a Controlled Area which extends 10km from the known infected areas in Waitara, Taranaki.
It is illegal to move plants (including trees) or plant material (such as garden waste, clippings, feijoa and guava fruit) from the myrtle family out of this area. You can still buy and plant these species inside the Controlled Area.
For more details on the outbreak and how to manage plants affected by Myrtle Rust see the MPI website: http://www.mpi.govt.nz/protection-and-response/responding/alerts/myrtle-rust
Information source: Ministry for Primary Industries.