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Myrtle rust reaches Tasmania



February 25, 2015

Myrtle rust

Tassie gardeners be vigilant! MYRTLE RUST, which is having a devastating effect on many mainland Australian plants, has finally reached Tasmania. You can help to eradicate it.

Myrtle rust has been found on Lophomyrtus ‘Black Stallion’ host plants (a NZ native cultivar) near Burnie in north-west Tasmania and also in a nursery near Hobart.

Myrtle rust on Syzygium jambos (Rose apple) (Photo by R. Makinson)

Myrtle rust on Syzygium jambos (Rose apple) (Photo by R. Makinson)

Biosecurity Tasmania says that the outbreak near Burnie has been treated to stop the spread of spores and it was hoped that it has been discovered early. All exports of Myrtacaeae family plants to Western Australian and South Australia have been suspended.

Tasmanians need to check plants in their gardens for signs of a bright yellow fungus, especially on the soft new growth. Myrtaceae family plants that could succumb to the disease are both native and exotic, like myrtle, lilly pilly, bottlebrush, eucalypts, paperbark, tea tree and agonis. The fungal spores can be easily spread to other plants by wind, moving infected plants, on clothing and on machinery.

If you do see something that you’re worried could be myrtle rust, photograph the plant, note its location and contact Biosecurity Tasmania, phone (03) 6165 3785. For more information, go to the Biosecurity Tasmania website.

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9 years ago

I can say that quarantine tasmania has been negligent with regards to this threat. I know of shipments of plants from Victoria that while on the manifest contain no plants in Myrtaceae, actually contain weed species of Myrtaceae (e.g. Eucalypts)in the pots of allowed plants. There has also been discussion amongst Nursery owners of introducing the fungus so that import bans are lifted. On the tourist front, there is no mention of Myrtle Rust at either terminals of the spirit of Tasmania or Airports despite Tasmania being a popular destination for bush walkers who may have just been walking in infected areas interstate or for people who may have seed, flowers or plants from species of myrtaceae that they fail to declare because they fail to understand the threat posed. In general in Tasmania there has been a very poor educational program. I can’t comment whether this is due to quarantine budget restraints or whether this is due to the low impact this fungus is perceived to have both commercially (by forestry and nursery industries) and environmentally due to the temperate climate. Tasmania seems to be in a state of apathy.