Skip to main content

COVID-19 information - To learn about Auckland Council’s response to COVID-19 visit OurAuckland

Water restrictions in Auckland - Water restrictions are in effect across the Auckland region. Learn more

Tiakina ngā tupu i te waikura muritara

Protect plants from myrtle rust

Myrtle rust presents a serious biodiversity threat. It is a recent arrival in New Zealand, so it is hard to predict how damaging it will be.

What is myrtle rust?

Myrtle rust is a plant disease caused by the fungus Austropuccinia psidii. It produces powder-like spores that can be easily spread through direct contact or by the wind.

Once established on a host tree or shrub, it destroys new growth and soft tissues, eventually killing the plant.

At risk plants

Myrtle rust can infect hundreds of species in the plant family Myrtaceae, which in New Zealand includes such species as mānuka, pōhutukawa, rātā and kānuka.

Research shows the genus Lophomyrtus — which includes ramarama and rōhutu — is especially at risk. Based on countries where myrtle rust is more established, severe declines are possible for these plants, and others may prove susceptible in future.

Common exotic plants also at risk include: feijoa, bottlebrush, gum, guava, willow myrtle, lilly pilly (monkey apple) and brush cherry (Syzygium spp).

Reducing the risk of myrtle rust

Look out for myrtle rust when moving, buying, planting, or working with myrtles.

Note the following guidelines:

  • Do not transport plants or green waste you suspect to be infected with myrtle rust (or any other pest).
  • If you need to treat or remove infected plants or material, follow the advice on
  • After working on Myrtaceae, sterilise tools and equipment with methylated spirits or 5-10 per cent bleach. Cover and contain clothes in plastic if moving them between the site and laundry. Wash exposed clothing in hot water.
  • Limit pruning of Myrtaceae to autumn and early winter, as this stimulates new growth. Myrtle rust infects soft, young growing tissues of the plant, and is most virulent during warmer months.
  • Consider removing susceptible exotic species such as lilly pilly and replacing them with resistant natives such as pittosporum. Susceptible plants form a "reservoir" population in which the fungus can build up.
  • Report sightings through the reporter app (available via iTunes or Google Play) or contact

More information

Visit  for identification guides, where it has been found and how to manage infected plants.

Advice on managing myrtle rust in a plant production context is also available from NZ Plant Producers.

 Related topics



Working on or around trees on or around treesFind out if a tree is protected and if you need to apply for a resource consent before working on, around or underneath trees on your, neighbouring, and council properties.aspxBuilding and consents Resource consents
Plant for your local ecosystem for your local ecosystemFind information on how to plant to suit your local ecosystem.aspxBiodiversity
Akl Paths PathsInformation about walking and cycling paths, walkways, trails and tracks in Auckland.aspx
Protect our kauri trees our kauri treesKauri trees are under the threat of kauri dieback disease. Our steps in controlling the disease include setting up protection zones and educating the public.aspx
Prevent pests from spreading pests from spreadingPrevent pests from spreading by checking and cleaning your vehicle and gear after visiting a site with pests and before visiting an island.aspxBiosecurity
Report a pest plant, pest animal or plant disease a pest plant, pest animal or plant diseaseReport weeds, pest animals and diseases to Auckland Council. Report marine and exotic pests to MPI.aspxBiosecurity