Myrtle rust: a threat to Western Australia

Keeping myrtle rust out of WA

Bush walkers and home gardeners are likely to be the first people to find myrtle rust if it enters WA.

Naturalists are invaluable as “eyes on the ground” but are also those most likely to inadvertently bring this disease into WA.

Leaves with yellow powdery rust spores.
Myrtle rust could devastate many important and unique plant species. It is readily identified by its unique bright yellow or orange spores or pustules on leaves.

Wind disperses myrtle rust spores but wind alone is unlikely to carry them across the desert which separates WA from the eastern states. However, the tiny spores are highly transportable and can stick to clothing, hats, footwear, vehicles and equipment. Consequently anyone who visits NSW, Victoria or Queensland and then returns to WA should take the following precautions:

  • If travelling by road, shake out floor mats, wash down tyres and check that the vehicle, caravan, trailer and any gardening equipment contain no plant material. Do this before leaving NSW, Victoria or Queensland and do it again before crossing the border back into Western Australia. The reason for performing the first clean-up is that if any spores are accidentally transported even a short distance into other states they could allow myrtle rust to become established further westward and, consequently, begin the spread of the disease towards WA.
  • If possible, change into fresh clothing and footwear before re-entering WA and pack away the attire that was worn in NSW and Queensland. Once home, wash everything that was used on the trip.
  • Rail and domestic airline passengers are reminded that any plant material or items contaminated by soil are prohibited entry into WA. If friends or relatives from eastern Australia are planning to visit WA please pass on this advice.

Contact information

Vincent Lanoiselet
+61 (0)8 9368 3263
Pest and Disease Information Service (PaDIS)
+61 (0)8 9368 3080
Page last updated: Friday, 31 March 2017 - 1:24pm