Myrtle rust

Myrtle rust is a serious fungal disease that affects plants in the myrtle family. Plants in this family include New Zealand’s native pōhutukawa, mānuka, rātā, and some common ornamental garden plants like bottlebrush and lilly pilly.

Myrtle rust in New Zealand

Dedicated website has in-depth information

Biosecurity New Zealand and the Department of Conservation have developed a myrtle rust website. It has in-depth information about myrtle rust in New Zealand. You'll find:

  • information about the disease, where it's been found, when it's most active, and what plants it can affect
  • tools to help you to identify and record sightings of it
  • advice on how to manage it on your own property
  • an overview of science projects
  • a range of guidance and resources.

Current status of myrtle rust

Myrtle rust has been found throughout most of the North Island, and across the top and on the west coast of the South Island. Biosecurity New Zealand is no longer collecting, analysing, or reporting myrtle rust data. Given the widespread distribution of the disease, targeted surveillance and control activities have ceased and the focus is firmly on:

  • research to build our understanding of myrtle rust
  • research to identify possible tools, treatments, and future management options
  • supporting landowners to minimise the impacts of myrtle rust on their plants, through advice on the myrtle rust website.

How you can help

If you think you see signs of the disease on a myrtle plant, don't touch it.

If you have a camera or mobile phone you can take a photo and submit it to the iNaturalist website. Experts can check to confirm whether your identification is correct.

You can also call the MPI Exotic Pest and Disease Hotline on 0800 80 99 66. Capturing this information through iNaturalist or MPI means it will be available to agencies and scientists in future to analyse the rate of spread and observed impacts.

More instructions, tools, and training videos are available on the myrtle rust website.

Because myrtle rust is an unwanted organism, you are obliged to take care not to deliberately spread it. If you decide to remove myrtle rust infected plant material, you must comply with the conditions set out in the general permission granted by MPI’s chief technical officer when transporting, and disposing of, infected plant material. The permission document has information on the conditions.

Myrtle rust newsletters

Minutes from Myrtle Rust Governance Board meetings

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