Shrubs on re­vamped street re­moved af­ter be­ing hit by dis­ease

Nelson Mail - - News - Cherie Sivi­gnon cherie.sivi­[email protected]

Shrubs along the re­vamped sec­tion of Rich­mond’s main street have been re­moved as myr­tle rust in­fec­tions spread across the Nel­son and Tas­man re­gion.

Tas­man Dis­trict Coun­cil com­mu­nity re­la­tions man­ager Chris Choat said ev­i­dence of the fun­gal dis­ease had been found on some shrubs in a ‘‘cou­ple of beds’’ along the re­cently up­graded CBD sec­tion of Queen St.

‘‘About half [the shrubs] have been re­moved as a pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sure,’’ Choat said.

Hor­ti­cul­tural of­fi­cer Richard Hil­ton said the new land­scape plant­ing had one shrub – ra­ma­rama – in the Myr­taceae fam­ily, which was a com­monly used plant around Rich­mond.

‘‘It is un­known why these new plants were vul­ner­a­ble to the dis­ease, but it was de­cided to re­move all in­fected plants and their neigh­bours be­fore the dis­ease could spread into the wider land­scape,’’ Hil­ton said.

The shrubs were re­placed with grasses, ‘‘and reg­u­lar checks are made of the re­main­ing ra­ma­rama, in­clud­ing plants not in the new Queen St up­grade’’, he said.

Choat said the plants were ‘‘rel­a­tively cheap – sin­gle dol­lars as op­posed to tens or hun­dreds’’.

The tı¯toki and ornamental pear trees that had been planted in the beds as part of the up­grade were fine.

A Biose­cu­rity New Zealand spokesper­son con­firmed yesterday that nei­ther tı¯toki nor ornamental pears were sus­cep­ti­ble hosts for myr­tle rust.

The spokesper­son said myr­tle rust had been con­firmed at 25 sites or prop­er­ties in Nel­son city and Tas­man dis­trict, with five con­firmed re­ported in­fec­tions in Nel­son – in The Wood and Tahu­nanui.

In Tas­man, there were 20 con­firmed re­ported in­fec­tions – at Rich­mond, Po­hara, Colling­wood, Para­para, Pa­tons Rock and Tata Beach.

In­fec­tions had been found on ra­ma­rama and po¯hutukawa, the spokesper­son said.

Myr­tle rust has now spread to many parts of New Zealand that have a suit­able cli­mate. Biose­cu­rity NZ has con­tacted the owners of af­fected prop­er­ties and pro­vided in­for­ma­tion about their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties un­der the Biose­cu­rity Act, and ad­vice about main­tain­ing their prop­erty to min­imise the spread of dis­ease.

‘‘We have lim­ited tools avail­able to man­age the dis­ease, and are in­vest­ing sig­nif­i­cantly in sci­en­tific re­search to de­velop new tools, build un­der­stand­ing of myr­tle rust, and ex­plore pos­si­ble long-term treat­ment and man­age­ment op­tions,’’ the spokesper­son said.

Myr­tle rust has spread to many parts of New Zealand, with 20 con­firmed re­ported in­fec­tions in Tas­man dis­trict – in­clud­ing shrubs in the up­graded sec­tion of Rich­mond’s Queen St.

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