Myrtle rust on the leaves of Melaleuca Quinquenervia.
Myrtle rust on the leaves of Melaleuca Quinquenervia. Contributed

Devastating fungus arrives

A DEVASTATING fungal plant disease, which experts fear has the capacity to wreak untold havoc in parks and gardens, has arrived in Rockhampton.

The Morning Bulletin's gardening guru Neil Fisher says myrtle rust has the capacity to affect about half the most popular garden trees and shrubs in the region.

And there's no known treatment.

It is understood that biologists working for the Queensland Government were initially reluctant to admit that the disease had spread to Rockhampton in a consignment of plants to a local retailer.

But the outbreak was confirmed yesterday and Mr Fisher says it is now vital that gardeners understand the problem and know what to look out for.

"Most of the local nurseries have been battling for some time to keep it out, but now it is here, it is likely to spread quickly," he said. Myrtle rust poses no threat to human or animal health but its impact on trees and shrubs is swift and deadly.

Mr Fisher says it can affect "everything from gum trees to guavas" and is likely to attack most of the bird attracting native plants in local gardens. Most at risk are lilly pillies and acmenas, bottlebrushes, paperbarks, tea trees, melaleucas and eucalypts.

According to Biosecurity Queensland the first signs of infection are tiny raised spots or pustules on infected leaves. After a few days the spots turn a distinctive egg-yolk yellow.

Anyone with infected plans must not, under any circumstances, move or dispose of the plant. All suspect plants must be reported immediately to the exotic plant pest hotline on 1800 084 881.

 

MYRTLE RUST

Spread on the wind, by birds, bees, bats, people and vehicles

Some of the most popular plants at risk

First detected in NSW in April 2010.

Not harmful to humans or animals

it can affect "everything from gum trees to guavas"



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