Myrtle rust spreads to the wider Waikato
surrounding areas for signs of the disease, which attacks various species of plants in the myrtle family including pohutukawa, rata, manuka, gum, bottlebrush and feijoa.
Peter Fraser, owner of wholesale nursery Growing Spectrum near Hamilton, said his company had taken steps to guard against the arrival of the disease, which is thought to have blown over from Australia.
‘‘For a start we grow a limited range of myrtle species because we can get 6 degree frosts here, so we have no pohutukawa or manuka. We grow about eight species.
‘‘We took all of them out and showed them to staff so they can identify them.’’
When plants leave the nursery they are closely checked over to make sure they carry no disease and the nursery trucks are cleaned every week. Pallets and trolleys are also regularly sterilised.
Fraser said he feared what late spring might bring.
* People can report any suspected signs of myrtle rust to MPI’s Exotic Pest and Disease Hotline on 0800 80 99 66.
Myrtle rust (Puccinia psidii) has reached the wider Waikato.