Christchurch and Banks Peninsula residents are being urged to keep their eyes open for any sign of the myrtle rust plant disease recently discovered in New Zealand.
Myrtle rust is an invasive fungus that attacks members of the myrtle family of plants. It could seriously damage or kill mānuka, rātā, kānuka and pōhutukawa, as well as feijoa and eucalyptus.
While myrtle rust is found all along Australia’s eastern seaboard, it has only just been detected in New Zealand.
As of Monday the number of properties infected with myrtle rust nationally stood at 25 – 20 properties in Taranaki, three in Northland and two in Waikato.
“Myrtle rust spores are microscopic and can easily spread across large distances by wind so unfortunately it is likely at some point that myrtle rust will reach Christchurch and Banks Peninsula,’’ said Christchurch City Council Head of Parks Andrew Rutledge.
“The Ministry for Primary Industries(external link) is doing all it can to stop the spread of the disease and has stepped up its surveillance but we all need to be on the look-out for this disease because if we can detect it early, we will have the best chance of containing its spread,’’ Mr Rutledge said.
Myrtle rust only affects plants in the myrtle family. It generally attacks soft, new growth, including leaf surfaces, shoots, buds, flowers, and fruit. Symptoms to look out for on myrtle plants are:
Some leaves may become buckled or twisted and die off.
If you think you've seen the symptoms of myrtle rust, do not touch it.
Find out more about myrtle rust on the MPI website(external link).