Looking for a way forward on myrtle rust

myrtle rust on willow myrtle (Agonis flexuosa) Photo: Dr Louise Morin c. CSIRO

Myrtle rust on willow myrtle (Agonis flexuosa) Photo: Dr Louise Morin c. CSIRO

Australia’s leading plant and fungal scientists have joined industry and government agencies at the Australian National Botanic Gardens to explore options for managing the outbreak of the South American fungal disease, myrtle rust.

Myrtle rust is a serious fungal disease that affects Australian native plants such as bottle brush, tea tree, eucalypts and other members of the Myrtaceae family. Since it first emerged in a central NSW plant nursery last April, it has spread to the north and south of the state and up to Queensland.

At the Australian National Botanic Gardens, we have a huge investment in the 65,000 plants that we have growing. It’s the only place in the world where you can see this diversity of Australian native plants in one location and it’s a great scientific research centre – so it is critical that we protect this collection.

Gardens Executive director Dr Judy West said the workshop was bringing horticulture and agriculture experts together with Australia’s botanic gardens to update what we know about the disease in the Australian environment. “We’ll especially be looking at what we still need to learn so that we can determine research priorities,” Dr West said.

A fact sheet about myrtle rust can be found on the department’s invasive species pages

Please keep an eye out for myrtle rust in your area. If you think a plant has it – take a photo and email it to info@anbg.gov.au. Please don’t take infected leaves anywhere where they could spread to other plants such as your local nursery or botanic garden.

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