Deadly plant disease myrtle rust discovered in Auckland

  • 23/11/2017
It's the first time the killer has been found in the region.
It's the first time the killer has been found in the region. Photo credit: File

The plant-killing disease myrtle rust has been found for the first time in the Auckland region.

Several hundred lophomyrtus (ramarama) plants on a commercial plant production property in West Auckland are confirmed to have the disease, says the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

MPI confirmed the disease on Wednesday and have since put movement controls in place on the property, which grows plants for ornamental foliage.

"Visibly infected plants will be safely destroyed as quickly as possible and we will begin to check neighbouring properties to identify any other potential infections," says myrtle rust response controller Dr Catherine Duthie.

However, the detection of myrtle rust isn't entirely unexpected, Dr Duthie said.

"While myrtle rust has been relatively dormant over the winter months we have been expecting new infections to be identified as we head into the warmer summer months and the fungus begins to release spores again."

MPI is now considering the implications of the new find.

"It may mean that we have to review our tactics and prepare for a longer term approach to managing it in partnership with others including local authorities, iwi, plant production industry and interested individuals" she said.

Myrtle rust has previously been found in Taranaki, Te Puke, Waikato and Northland.

NZN