Myrtle rust in Nelson

Following the discovery of myrtle rust in the Tasman and Marlborough districts it has now been found on plants in Nelson City.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has surveyed at-risk plants In Nelson to determine the extent of myrtle rust infestation and have found it at four sites – three private properties in The Wood area on ramarama (Lophomyrtus sp.) and pohutukawa, and on a pohutukawa in the Tahunanui Reserve.

myrtle rust on leaf large

Myrtle rust is a serious fungal disease that affects plants in the myrtle family, which includes pohutukawa, manuka, and rata as well as some common garden plants such as ramarama and lilly pilly.

Myrtle rust has now spread to many parts of New Zealand that have a suitable climate, including the top of the South Island. In Tasman and Nelson, MPI is providing practical advice to landowners/occupiers with confirmed myrtle rust infection to help them decide how to manage their plants.

A long-term management strategy for myrtle rust will be developed over the next two years in collaboration with iwi, councils, industry and the Department of Conservation.

If you suspect myrtle rust call the MPI Exotic Pest Disease hotline immediately on 0800 80 99 66. Do not touch it or try to collect samples as this may increase the spread of the disease.  If you have a camera or phone camera, take clear photos, including the whole plant, the whole affected leaf, and a close-up of the spores or affected area of the plant.

More information about caring for myrtle plants, and monitoring for myrtle rust, is available on the Biosecurity website A handy guide to identifying Myrtle Rust (5.4MB PDF) is also available.

A recent Radio NZ article about myrtle rust can be found here.