Biosecurity NZ and the Department of Conservation are encouraging the public to check their local myrtle plants this summer to help track the spread of the fungal disease myrtle rust.
Myrtle rust is likely to be more active during warmer weather and is likely to spread to new areas where it hasn't been seen before.
New Zealand's precious native myrtle plants including pōhutukawa, rātā, mānuka, kānuka and ramarama are vulnerable to the disease. The fungus, which is mainly spread 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.
If you think you see symptoms of myrtle rust remember to not touch the plant or collect samples, but take pictures and report it to Biosecurity New Zealand's Exotic Pest and Disease Hotline on 0800 80 99 66.
As of December 2018, the disease has been confirmed on 811 properties across most of the North Island and upper areas of the South Island. Taranaki, Auckland and Bay of Plenty are the most seriously affected areas.