Go Gardening - - Greenlife Matters -

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

Im­age © The State of Queens­land, Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Fish­eries

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