Myrtle Rust can show as leaf spots and in other forms.
Photo © CSIRO
It appears there is good some good news at long last about this threatening plant disease.
Through the efforts of Biosecurity Queensland and DERM, together with the cold and relatively dry conditions the rapid spread is now merely a trickle. The rust is still here and new sites are being reported but currently it appears to be contained to south east Queensland in broad terms. The last official communiqué was in late May when known sites totalled some 131 and over 900 sites had been inspected. Advice to hand indicates that the rust is still sporing in favourable niches such as warmer, moister sites.
The Fraser Coast area remains an area of focus. To the best of knowledge myrtle rust has not made the jump onto Fraser Island putting significant vegetation of this World Heritage Listed Property at risk. Unfortunately it probably will be only a matter of time when spores are accidently transported there perhaps on camping gear or clothing of nature loving visitors.
DERM is still on high alert endeavouring to reduce the spread of this rust within the protected area estate. It is Wildlife Queensland’s understanding that sentinel sites are being established that will be closely monitored and appropriate action taken at the first sight of the rust. Furthermore research is continuing with field trials on the susceptibility of various myrtaceous species.
There has been some confusion with regard to the taxonomy and perhaps the common name of the rust. Initially it was indicated that the rust was Uredo rangelii. More recent advice indicated the rust was in fact Puccinia psidii, a rust attributed to the guava rust complex. Puccinia psidii has had the common name Eucalyptus rust applied to it. Certainly in 2009 the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) used the common name Eucalyptus rust for Puccinia psidii when warning of the dangers of this fungal pathogen that occurred in parts of South America, Central America, Mexico and Florida but was not then in Australia. The name myrtle rust is in current use in Queensland which in Wildlife Queensland’s view is far more appropriate and descriptive as a broad range of myrtaceous species are susceptible. Until formally advised to the contrary Wildlife Queensland will continue to use the common name myrtle rust.
Please remember should you suspect an incidence of myrtle rust advise Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 or the Exotic Plant Pest hotline 1800 084 881
For more information on Wildlife Queensland's activities, call us on +61 7 3221 0194 or send us an email.