Myrtle rust is a serious fungal disease that affects plants in the Myrtaceae family. This family includes Australian natives such as rose apple (lilly pilly), bottle brush and tea tree.
Myrtle rust also affects many plants that are commonly found in gardens. These include:
- willow myrtle
- thready-bark myrtle
- scrub cherry
- lemon scented myrtle.
The disease causes spots on leaves and stems that develop masses of orange to yellow powdery spores. It most often affects young shoots and the growing tips of plants causing leaves to become curled and distorted.
Myrtle rust was first detected in late April 2010 at a cut flower facility on the NSW central coast. This was the first time the disease had been detected in Australia so there was limited knowledge of its impact and behaviour under Australian conditions. Infections have primarily been detected on properties that have links to the commercial and cut flower industry.
Myrtle rust can spread rapidly through the wind, on contaminated plants, equipment, clothing and animals so people working in areas where myrtle rust is present should be aware of any movement restrictions and biosecurity measures that will prevent the spread of the disease.
A full history of the response to Myrtle rust was made available in the April 2012 edition of the Biosecurity Bulletin which is published by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
Below are links to state and territory agriculture agencies where you will find further information about where myrtle rust in that jurisdiction, images, movement restrictions and helpful biosecurity tips.
- New South Wales Department of Primary Industries
- Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
- Victorian Department of Primary Industries
- Biosecurity South Australia