What to do if you find myrtle rust

It is important to understand where myrtle rust has spread to and where it is active. Look out for signs of myrtle rust.

If you think you see the symptoms of myrtle rust:

  • don't touch it
  • if you have a camera or mobile phone, take clear photos, including the whole plant, the whole affected leaf, and a close-up of the spores or affected area of the plant, and submit it to the iNaturalist website where experts can check to confirm whether your identification is correct
  • you can also call the MPI Exotic Pest and Disease Hotline on 0800 80 99 66.

Capturing this information through iNaturalist or MPI means it will be available to agencies and scientists in future to analyse the rate of spread and observed impacts. 

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Remember, don't touch it or try to collect samples as this may increase the spread of the disease.

Do not attempt to self-treat trees and plants with a fungicide, either for a cure or to try to prevent myrtle rust infection. We are still building a picture of whereabouts the disease is present nationally, and if people use preventative sprays, it could suppress symptoms, and prevent us from making the best management decisions for the country.

How to remove infected plant material from your property

These resources and accompanying video provides advice for landowners who choose to remove infected myrtle plants on their properties. Please note that there is no requirement to remove infected plants.

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Other actions you can take to reduce the risk of myrtle rust spread 

Arrive clean, leave clean

The forest you visit could be infected with myrtle rust without you knowing it. Before entering such areas for work or recreation, you should minimise the risk of spreading the rust by ensuring your equipment, clothing, and tools arrive clean and leave the area clean.

Buy healthy plants and prune in cool weather

Make sure myrtle plants bought for your garden are free from the symptoms of myrtle rust. Inspect the leaves and stems of plants before you buy them, and avoid buying plants that have signs of disease. 

We recommend avoiding heavy pruning during warm weather as this will encourage susceptible new growth. Instead, prune myrtles only in late autumn and early winter to avoid encouraging new growth during warm weather when myrtle rust spores are more likely to form. 

Monitor your plants

We recommend regular monitoring of myrtle plants for any sign of myrtle rust, particularly new, young growth, shoots, and seedlings.