January 14, 2021

Myrtle rust: coming to a pōhutukawa near you?

Warmth, a bit of rain, and humidity – unfortunately all the ingredients are now present in many places for myrtle rust to be ravaging myrtle plants. Seen some yellow spores? Don’t touch them – snap them – and upload. Got some clear pictures of the host plant? Even better – these can help our experts confirm the symptoms indicate myrtle rust. The pictures of rohutu and ramarama (bubble leaf) keep coming – testament to the extreme vulnerability of these species to myrtle rust. Keep it up but also – it would be great if people could keep a special look out for pōhutukawa right now. Unfortunately reports are trickling in that even mature trees are now being impacted – especially on the ‘epicormic’ growth (new growth coming from old branches.) More information about where this is happening would be great – and whether this (and all) myrtle species are sporting spores on fruits and flowers. Leaves are commonly photographed – but don’t forget to check reproductive structures as well if they are present.

Posted on January 14, 2021 03:51 by reneejohansen reneejohansen | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 04, 2020

Myrtle rust season is upon us

As we come into the myrtle rust season (this disease thrives in warm, wet conditions), now is the time to be looking out for yellow spores. Researchers studying myrtle rust in the field are getting their summer field work underway, and you can help by keeping your eyes peeled as well. Spores are popping up across Auckland (thanks to everyone uploading pictures of these) and pustules have recently been seen by scientists in Taranaki. Thanks to those who have also reported the disease in other areas including Northland, Rotorua, Coromandel and on the East Cape. Given the local climate, these areas are likely hot spots for the disease, and further observations will help confirm this. Seen it somewhere else? Upload your pictures and help us understand what's going on out there.

Posted on December 04, 2020 02:47 by reneejohansen reneejohansen | 7 comments | Leave a comment

August 14, 2018

Updates to myrtle rust reporter

Hi all,

With the shift in emphasis from a response operation to long term management we are in the process of making changes to the app to support new objectives. To provide more information to those trying to manage the disease long term and to learn from the behaviour of this rust in New Zealand we are instigating a few new fields. These are things like what plant is infected and the severity of the infection. We have implemented these in the project so if you are placing observation in by the website you will need to start adding them. The updated app should be available in the next few days with all its nice shiny new functionality.

Posted on August 14, 2018 07:50 by stevepawson stevepawson | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 12, 2017

Myrtle rust reporter has been going 2 weeks

Hi everyone,

We are two weeks into the myrtle rust reporter so I thought it would be worthwhile giving a quick update on where we are at. So far we have had two reports of myrtle rust into the project one via the app and the other via the main NatureWatch NZ page. Just over 500 people have installed the app and about 50 have taken the time to log observations of potential host plants from the far north to Queenstown in the south. As a group we are slowly covering the country. with 200 observations of potential host plants that people are keeping an eye on. Not all observations have been of myrtle species and a huge shout out to the NatureWatch NZ community members that are helping people with the IDs so they know what they should or should not be keeping an eye on.

We are now on the countdown to Christmas so do encourage your colleagues, friends and families to get into the surveillance programme over the break. They might need a hand to get started so please take the time to show them how to login and use the app. Let's see if we can get our caretakers looking after 2000 plants after the Christmas break. A bit of a challenge but something that is achievable.



Posted on December 12, 2017 03:03 by stevepawson stevepawson | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 05, 2017

The warm weather continues

Hi everyone,

I was in Wellington today the sun was out, the weather was warm, and Oriental Parade had a few brave swimmers in the water. No more notifications from new regions by the MPI response team in the last few days but that does not mean we should rest on our laurels. So the current regions with known infections are Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty (Te Puke), Taranaki, and Hutt Valley. So if you are in those regions please take a close look at potential host plants. Those outside the known regions should also be vigilant as the Hutt Valley finding was a long way from previous records, hence we need to look closely.

Thanks to everyone that is participating.



Posted on December 05, 2017 08:15 by stevepawson stevepawson | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 02, 2017

And now on to Wellington :-(

Sadly myrtle rust has now been spotted near the capital. Three heavily infested ramarama in the Hutt Valley. This is a timely reminder for all of us to be vigilant and especially those in the broader Wellington region - keep your eyes peeled we need to know if this is an isolated infection.

We have had some great observations today of beautiful ramarama, monkey apple, bottle brush, and manuka. Keep up the good work guys and spread the word. We are hoping to start advertising next week via the garden centres but feel free to front run us and spread the word with your green fingered friends.

Hope you are all managing to keep cool in this hot weather.



Posted on December 02, 2017 08:14 by stevepawson stevepawson | 0 comments | Leave a comment

November 30, 2017

Summer is here

It's summer, whoo hoo! The country is basking in warm weather. Yesterday I was in Tauranga and it was clearly a hot sticky day, perfect conditions for fungi to thrive. Hence it is important that we are more vigilant than ever.

We had a couple of suspected cases of myrtle rust yesterday, thankfully both were false alarms. A huge thanks to those that took the time to report them you definitely did the right thing. I encourage everyone to report suspect finds as it is better to let experts conclusively rule them out than potentially miss something.

Again a huge thanks to all those that are helping with the IDs of potential host plants we really appreciate your assistance. Hope everyone has a great weekend and please do encourage your friends and family to participate and give them a helping hand to get started.


Posted on November 30, 2017 19:46 by stevepawson stevepawson | 0 comments | Leave a comment

No signs of spores today

Another good day of observations came to an end, thankfully with no more positive finds. More participants have registered but we still have big gaps on our map so please do introduce the app to your friends and colleagues.

Posted on November 30, 2017 00:27 by stevepawson stevepawson | 0 comments | Leave a comment

November 28, 2017

How are we going team - day 1 of myrtle rust reporter

It's been a busy first day after the launch of myrtle rust reporter. We have accumulated a number of observations with scattered contributions from both the North and South Islands.

Steve Pawson from the design team was interviewed by Jesse Mulligan on RadioNZ and we are slowly building our profiles elsewhere, e.g., Project Crimson, Facebook etc. We hope to have more high profile media coverage as the days progress.

Unfortunately we were a little too successful on day one with a new report of myrtle rust from Taranaki. Despite our obvious desire to not want to be find new infestations, it was great to see the app facilitating a speedy and efficient response. Great coordination/communications between the NatureWatchNZ user and MPIs biosecurity response and diagnostic staff. Well done team!

Thanks you all for your great support of the project. If you have time over the next few days please hand hold a few friends to get them going on the app. We still have huge ground to cover and the more people that join in the more effective we will be.


MRR Design Team

Posted on November 28, 2017 07:58 by stevepawson stevepawson | 0 comments | Leave a comment

November 27, 2017

Myrtle rust reporter app

The free myrtle rust reporter app went live on the iPhone and Android app stores today. You can use it to quickly take photos of the trees in the Myrtaceae family in your neighbourhood that you care about the most.

Each time you pass, stop and have a look for yellow or orange powdery spots on the leaves. If you find them, don't touch. Photograph it with the app and call the biosecurity hotline immediately at 0800 80 99 66.

Myrtle rust is a major threat to native, production, and ornamental plants in the myrtle family. Everything from eucalypts to manuka to pohutukawa are a risk. Managing the pathogen requires a lot of up-to-date knowledge of where it is, where it isn't (yet), and how quickly it's spreading.

Please spread the word (and not the rust).

You can learn more about the app here and learn more about myrtle rust here.

Posted on November 27, 2017 02:13 by jon_sullivan jon_sullivan | 0 comments | Leave a comment