Myrtle Rust: The great conqueror.

Sharyn Hoskin, a coastal gardener found out about Myrtle rust from her Dad a few weeks ago but only checked her trees this morning. “You hear about these things but you don’t take much notice, then all of a sudden it’s right here.” She estimates that approximately 10-15% of her plants belong to the affected groups.

“We’d be very sad if our Pohutukawas died and Feijoas are good food… I wouldn’t like to see them go.”

Hoskin told the Taranaki Thing that the response to Myrtle rust reminded her of the Cabbage tree virus a few years ago, “Everyone was really worried about it and there was a big response…The hype seems to have faded now, sometimes nature fights it’s way back… fingers crossed the same thing will happen with this.”

She believes MPI are doing a good job, although “It spreads on the wind, it’s going to be pretty hard to stop.”

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Sharyn would be “devastated,” if her pohutukawas were infected. -Photo: Eli Hill.

Myrtle rust is the latest epidemic to hit New Zealand’s fragile Ecosystem, affecting both our native and introduced species. This week it was discovered in three sites in Taranaki: A council depot, a handful of nurseries in Waitara and on a property in Waitui. MPI are releasing daily reports on it’s spread here.

Myrtle rust on host plants. Source: MPI

Myrtle rust is native to South America, but arrived in New Zealand from  Australia. Below shows it’s spread into the pacific.

June 2010.

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While it originated in South America Myrtle Rust was discovered in mid-2010 in Australia. Where its current range is limited to the east coast due to Australian preventative measures.

April-May 2017.

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On the 4th of April 2017 MPI reoported that a “Serious fungal plant disease (was) found on Raoul Island trees.” In May the first reports of Myrtle rust began to emerge from KeriKeri.

To May 23 2017 (Present).

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MPI have confirmed there are 16 properties infected with Myrtle rust in New Zealand. “The majority of properties are in Taranaki with just 2 confirmed in Northland and one new Waikato find.”

By Eli Hill.

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