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Myrtle rust (Austropuccinia psidii) is a serious fungal disease that affects plants in the myrtle family (family Myrtaceae). The myrtle family consists of trees and shrubs originating in both tropical and temperate regions. Well known members of the myrtle family include eucalypts, feijoa, guava, bottlebrushes (Callisternon spp.) and New Zealand native species such as pōhutukawa, rata, mānuka and kānuka.
Myrtle rust has been identified as a threat to New Zealand. The impact of myrtle rust has been particularly severe in Australia where it affects over 200 plant species. New Zealand has a number of species in the myrtle family considered to be at risk, among them iconic natives such as pōhutukawa, ramarama, rata and mānuka, but also feijoa, plantation and amenity eucalypts and numerous ornamental plants.
This fungus has continued to expand the recorded range of susceptible species as it has spread from country to country. It seems likely that myrtle rust will continue to find new susceptible species, or even new susceptible genera, now it has reached New Zealand.