10 May 2017

Auckland myrtle rust test negative

3:37 pm on 10 May 2017

A plant nursery in South Auckland has tested negative for the potentially devastating myrtle rust.

Myrtle rust can threaten plants including pohutukawa, manuka and feijoa trees.

Myrtle rust can threaten plants including pōhutukawa, feijoa, rātā, mānuka and kānuka. Photo: Supplied

The nursery was temporarily closed today while Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) officials investigated.

However, the test results showed the nursery was free of the fungus.

Myrtle rust - originally from South America - has been killing large numbers of native trees in Australia since 2010.

It spreads by air and is thought to be a threat to New Zealand natives including pōhutukawa, rātā, mānuka and kānuka, as well as introduced species such as feijoas, guavas, gums, bottlebrush and other members of the myrtaceae family.

Myrtle rust has already been confirmed at two properties in Kerikeri.

All other suspected cases had tested negative for the invasive fungus, the ministry said.

"MPI is committed to doing the best possible job to prevent the spread of myrtle rust. We have to be realistic, though, that this is a disease that spreads by microscopic spores that can be carried by the wind and on people, vehicles and equipment. Containing it may not be possible."

The impact on myrtle species in New Zealand was not yet known and the ministry's response was still in the early days, it said.

Anyone with concerns about a plant that was potentially infected by the rust should not touch it, but take a photo and contact the ministry.

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