Horizons helping track down myrtle rust

Save
Myrtle rust is a fungal disease that severely attacks plants in the myrtle family.

Horizons Regional Council is helping identify any myrtle rust vulnerability in the area.

The serious fungal disease was first detected in New Zealand in a Northland nursery in May and is believed to have arrived via spores from Australia.

Severe infestations can kill affected plants in the myrtle family, such as pōhutukawa and mānuka, and have long-term impacts on the regeneration of young plants and seedlings.

Horizons biodiversity, biosecurity, and partnerships manager, Rod Smillie, said although myrtle rust hasn't been detected in the Horizons Region, his team has been asked to identify if any myrtle species are to be included in upcoming riparian plantings.

"MPI wants to know where the plant material is being sourced from and where it's to be planted," says Mr Smillie.

"This is to determine if any of these plants could have been in contact with infected plants before making their way to us. Myrtle species are included in the mix of seedlings to be planted in riparian and biodiversity sites so we are currently collating the information required to send back to MPI..."

Mr Smillie says Horizons endorses the MPI request for the public to check their own gardens and planting areas for myrtle rust and to report any suspicious detections to MPI on 0800 80 99 66.

"Mrytle rust generally attacks soft, new growth, including leaf surfaces, shoots, buds, flowers, and fruit. Symptoms to look for include bright yellow powdery on both sides of leaves.

"If myrtle rust is detected in the Region our biosecurity staff will assist MPI in responding to the event so we have asked staff to be on standby from today onwards as a precaution," he says.

Information on myrtle rust can found at http://www.mpi.govt.nz/protection-and-response/responding/alerts/myrtle-rust

The first detection of the disease in mainland New Zealand was at a Northland nursery in early May 2017. To date myrtle rust has been found in Northland and Taranaki.

It is also widespread on Raoul Island in the Kermadec group, about 1,100km to the north-east of New Zealand.

Share this article

More Wanganui Chronicle