Fighting myrtle rust with online training
An online training programme to help people identify suspected myrtle rust infections in their backyards is now available.
Without training, identification of the plant fungus can be difficult. The fungus can even look different during seasonal changes.
Online training modules developed by Biosecurity New Zealand and the Department of Conservation are designed to better understand the fungus and its symptoms.
“The courses are available to everyone, and cover how myrtle rust spreads, what to do if you find it and climatic factors that influence it,” says Biosecurity New Zealand’s manager for recovery and pest management, John Sanson.
New Zealand’s native myrtle plants, which include pohutukawa, rata, manuka, kanuka and ramarama are vulnerable to the disease. The fungus, which is spread mainly by wind, generally infects shoots, buds, and young leaves of myrtle plants.
Infected plants show typical symptoms including bright yellow powdery spots on the underside of leaves but can also show other symptoms such as grey powdery spots during the cooler months.
The Gisborne region has had three confirmed positive detections of myrtle rust, says a Biosecurity NZ spokesman.
All of these detections were on the East Cape and were reported last year. There have been no new reports of myrtle rust infections so far this year.
Register for access to the myrtle rust infection identification courses at tinyurl.com/y3p85c5n.