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Myrtle Rust

Myrtle Rust

Updated 24 July 2019 2:44pm

Myrtle rust

Photo supplied by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI)

Myrtle Rust is a serious fungal disease that affects plants belonging to the Myrtaceae family including the pōhutukawa, mānuka and rātā, as well as some common garden plants such as ramarama and lilly pilly.

You may already know that myrtle rust infection has been found in our region. The combination of habitat and weather conditions has been ideal for it to have spread on the wind and become established. 

A new approach to managing myrtle rust

As of 4 April 2018, Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) have announced a new approach to managing Myrtle Rust nationally. This includes issuing new self-management advice to affected property and business owners, and lifting people’s understanding of the disease.

What this means for you

If MPI have not confirmed you have myrtle rust please keep an eye on it.

How to spot it

Myrtle rust only affects the types of plants listed in MPI's Myrtle Rust Susceptible Host Species document

Look out for:

  • Bright yellow powdery eruptions appearing on the underside of the leaf (young infection)
  • Bright yellow powdery eruptions on both sides of the leaf (mature infection)
  • Brown/grey rust pustules (older spores) on older lesions
  • Grey, 'fuzzy' spore growth on undersides of leaves

What to do if you spot it:

  • 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
  • Do not attempt to self-treat trees and plants with fungicide
Myrtle rust

Photo supplied by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI)

If MPI have confirmed you have myrtle rust on your property

To comply with the Biosecurity Act, material from infected plants must be securely contained and taken only to a landfill or transfer station.

  • Myrtle rust infected plant material is not to be disposed of in the green waste collection – general waste is buried so this will prevent further spread of spores
  • MPI recommends engaging an arborist or contractor to remove infected plants on your property, as it may require specialist equipment and technical skills

For more information, download the Myrtle Rust Information Sheet April 2018 fact sheet made available by MPI. 

Information on myrtle rust and how to manage it can be found on the myrtle rust page on the MPI website.