Myrtle Rust – a new invader

The fungus Uredo rangelii (myrtle rust), recently found in Victoria for the first time poses a threat to Victoria’s nursery, forestry and beekeeping industries, as well as to public parks and gardens and native forests. It can potentially attack all species of the Myrtaceae plant family.

The Myrtaceae or Myrtle plant family includes plants such as eucalypts, callistemons (bottlebrush) & acmena (Lillypilly). See the website below for what species the rust has been found on.

Wholesale, forestry and native nurseries may provide an ideal microclimate for myrtle rust, with a constant supply of susceptible, young foliage and long periods of leaf wetness.

Myrtle rust was first detected in Australia on the central coast of New South Wales (NSW) in April 2010. DPI has now detected myrtle rust at 60 sites in Victoria, mainly at production nurseries and wholesale outlets in and around metropolitan Melbourne.

However, recently detections have also been made at public parks and private residences, as well as at Shepparton, Ballarat, Tynong North and East Gippsland in regional Victoria.

The main impact on Victoria’s nursery industry is extra costs due to additional trade restrictions, but its effects on plant health could also impact the forestry and beekeeping industries, public parks and gardens and native forests.

Under the right conditions, myrtle rust may slow regeneration of native forests after harvesting or bushfire and could in extreme circumstances change forest biodiversity. It is not technically feasible to eradicate this disease so the focus is now on management to minimise its spread and impact.

If you suspect you have myrtle rust on your plants, report it to DPI immediately by phoning 1800 084 881 or by emailing plant.protection@dpi.vic.gov.au with a photo of the suspect material and a contact phone number.

To avoid spreading the disease it is suggested that you:

  • Do not touch, move or collect samples of the suspect plant material
  • Do not go to another site with any host materials.

This information was compiled from the Department of Primary Industries website.

http://www.dpi.vic.gov.au/forestry/pests-diseases-weeds/diseases/myrtle-rust

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