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Myrtle Rust

Myrtle Rust

Updated 13 February 2020 9:44am

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

Biosecurity New Zealand and the Department of Conservation have developed a myrtle rust website. It has in-depth information about myrtle rust in New Zealand. You'll find:

  • Information about the disease, where it's been found, when it's most active, and what plants it can affect
  • Tools to help you to identify and record sightings of it
  • Advice on how to manage it on your own property
  • An overview of research projects to help combat the disease, and the July 2019 Myrtle Rust Science Plan
  • Information about the 2019 Myrtle Rust Science Symposium
  • A range of guidance and resources

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
  • Some leaves may become buckled or twisted and die off

If you think you see signs of the disease on a myrtle plant, don't touch it.

If you have a camera or mobile phone you can take a photo and submit it to the iNaturalist website. Experts can check to confirm whether your identification is correct.

You can also call the MPI Exotic Pest and Disease Hotline on 0800 80 99 66. Capturing this information through iNaturalist or MPI means it will be available to agencies and scientists in future to analyse the rate of spread and observed impacts.

More instructions, tools, and training videos are available on the myrtle rust website.

Because myrtle rust is an unwanted organism, you are obliged to take care not to deliberately spread it. If you decide to remove myrtle rust infected plant material, you must comply with the MPI’s conditions for the transport and disposal of infected plant material. Find out how to remove infected myrtle plants and safely dispose of the waste.

    Myrtle rust

    Photo supplied by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI)