Myrtle rust causes seed-banking panic

Hundreds of officials across the country are scrambling to gather seeds of more than 30 native plant species now threatened by deadly fungal disease Myrtle Rust.

Auckland Council and other regional authorities have been directed to go out and collect seed of important native myrtle trees, in a nationwide emergency seed-banking effort being led by the Department of Conservation (DoC).

The rust, which poses a major threat to cherished native myrtle species like pohutukawa, manuka and rata, as well as well as feijoa and bottle brush, has been confirmed to have spread from the Kerikeri nursery where it was first found last week.

Officials say it may now be impossible to contain the wind-blown scourge.

The impact it will have on some of the country’s most important plant species, and the $300 million manuka honey industry, remains unclear.

It’s probably too late. ?The spores of a rust like that can not be prevented from going wherever they like. ?It probably came here on the winds from Australia.

As for seed banking, that should have been a long term project. ?Not a last second panic.


– NZ Herald