Myrtle rust has been discovered in New Zealand for the first time, with their Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) issuing alerts for growers and gardeners alike.
Myrtle rust, Austropuccinia psidii, has been found in Kerikeri and Waitara in the county’s north, after having been widespread on an isolated NZ outpost for some time.
The fungus, which has been in Australia for several years, affects members of the myrtle family, of which New Zealand has some 104 species.
Safeguards such as the banning of imported cut flowers of myrtaceous species from Australian states where the fungus is known to be present have been in place for years in a bid to stave off its introduction. But the microscopic spores of the fungus are thought to be capable of travelling on winds across the Tasman Sea. However, is not currently known how the fungus arrived on NZ shores.
Alerts have been issued for growers in particular as the fungus is known to favour the wet, humid conditions of production nursery facilities. But home gardeners are being encouraged to keep a close eye out for it as well.
Anyone who suspects myrtle rust in their gardens is encouraged not to touch it, but rather call the MPI Exotic Pest and Disease Hotline on 0800 80 99 66.
For a full brief on myrtle rust in NZ visit the MPI website.