The plant fungal disease myrtle rust was found in Victoria for the first time in December 2011. It poses a threat to Victoria's nursery, forestry and beekeeping industries, as well as to public parks and gardens and native forests. It can potentially attack all species of the Myrtaceae plant family.
Myrtle rust on Lophomyrtus 'Black Stallion'
Myrtle rust was first detected in Australia on the central coast of New South Wales (NSW) in April 2010. In December 2010, the Myrtle Rust National Management Group agreed that it was not technically feasible to eradicate this disease.
Myrtle rust has now been detected at more than 80 sites in Victoria, mainly at production nurseries and wholesale outlets in and around metropolitan Melbourne (see map).
Myrtle rust infected premises
However, detections have also been made at public parks and private residences, as well as at Shepparton, Ballarat, Tynong North and East Gippsland in regional Victoria.
Experience elsewhere in Australia shows it won't be possible to eradicate the disease, so the focus is now on management to minimise its spread and impact.
Myrtle rust is widespread in both New South Wales and Queensland, including some bushland areas, and because the disease is so easily spread, Victoria is likely to see further introductions from these states.
Affected industries and agencies are collaborating with Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR) to prepare for future management of the disease in Victoria.
They include the nursery, cut flower, forestry and beekeeping industries, as well as the Municipal Association of Victoria, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Parks Victoria and VicForests. Some of these agencies are already dealing with detections on land which they manage, in line with this phase of the program. However, at present myrtle rust has not been detected in the natural environment.
DEDJTR, potentially affected agencies and other interested people are also monitoring more than 100 high-risk sites around the state, which should provide an early indicator if myrtle rust has spread to that area.
If you would like to participate in myrtle rust monitoring, please see Monitoring and sentinel sites. Your assistance will be very welcome.
Management of myrtle rust on both public and private land is the responsibility of the land manager. However, DEDJTR will continue to provide land managers (including home gardeners) with advice on how to manage infected material.
Businesses trading in Myrtaceae plants should adopt the Australian Nursery Industry Myrtle Rust Management Plan to help slow the spread of the disease.
Businesses can be penalised $7,042 for selling plants which they are reasonably expected to know are infected with myrtle rust.
Since 30 June 2012, restrictions on importing myrtle rust host material from other states have no longer applied. See Interstate movement of host materials.
To date, myrtle rust has been found on the following species in Victoria:
Callistemon 'King's Park Special'
Lophomyrtus x ralphii
Fiji Christmas bush
New Zealand Christmas bush
Lilly pilly/scrub cherry
Dwarf magenta cherry
However, all species of the Myrtaceae plant family are potential hosts of the disease.
Around 2,500 people from industry and state and local government agencies have been trained by DEDJTR in identifying and managing myrtle rust.
If you would like to attend an information session, please email email@example.com to register your interest.
Sessions typically run for 1-2 hours.
What do I do if I think I've found myrtle rust?
Early identification of this rust is vital for effective management and DEDJTR should be notified immediately of all plants suspected of being infected with myrtle rust.
To report suspected myrtle rust, please telephone DEDJTR on 1800 084 881.
Alternatively, you can take electronic photos of the suspect material and email to firstname.lastname@example.org together with a contact phone number.
To avoid spreading the disease:
- Do not touch, move or collect samples of the suspect plant material
- Do not go to another site with any host materials after handling suspect material.
Plants which are not in the Myrtaceae family and therefore not hosts of myrtle rust
- Stone fruit
- Pome fruit (eg. apples, pears)
- Nut trees
- Legumes (eg. lupins, clover)
- Crepe myrtle
- Kangaroo paws
- Hop bushes
However, these and other non-Myrtaceae plants may show similar symptoms due to infection by other rusts.
Myrtle rust attacks young leaves and stems and should not be confused with yellow-coloured lichens growing on tree trunks or branches. Unlike lichens, the fungal spores of a myrtle rust infection are powdery.
- Interstate movement of host materials
- What does myrtle rust look like?
- Which plants are affected?
- Reducing the spread of myrtle rust on your property
- Reducing the spread of myrtle rust in bushland
- Treatment of myrtle rust in the home garden
- Treatment of myrtle rust for nurseries, plant traders and the bush food industry
- Monitoring and sentinel sites