Imagine a devastating disease hitting our Pohutukawa and Manuka trees. The risk is real and gardeners are being asked to help prevent this happening.
The disease is myrtle rust, which has been detected in pohutukawa trees on Raoul Island 1,100 km north north-east of the North Island. This serious fungal disease is spread by wind and attacks plants of the myrtaceae family which includes New Zealand native pohutukawa, rata, kanuka, manuka and ramarama as well as garden plants such as eucalyptus, feijoa and guava.
While myrtle rust has not yet been detected on mainland New Zealand, the Ministry for Primary Industries is working with the Department of Conservation and industry groups to manage its spread.
Gardeners can help by looking out for symptoms on myrtaceae trees. What to look 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) can appear on older lesions. • Leaves may become buckled or
twisted and die off.
If you think you have seen this fungal disease in New Zealand call MPI’s Exotic Pests and Diseases Hotline.
HOTLINE: 0800 80 99 66
Take a photo, and do not attempt to touch or collect samples as this may increase the spread of this disease. Myrtle rust can be transported on clothing and equipment. If you think you’ve come into contact with myrtle rust spores in New Zealand or overseas, please wash your clothes and clean your equipment such as boots and tools thoroughly. Rusts of this type are rare on many native species - any sighting should raise suspicion. FOR MORE INFORMATION GO TO www.mpi.govt.nz