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Myrtle Rust Disease Rescue Project

‘From Common to Critical in less than 10 years.’

Myrtle rust (Austropuccinia psidii)

What is myrtle rust?

Myrtle rust is a disease caused by the exotic fungus Austropuccinia psidii (formerly Puccinia psidii, initially identified as Uredo rangelii). Overseas there are known to be several strains of P. psidii. At this stage Australia has only one strain.

Myrtle rust threatens trees and shrubs in the Myrtaceae family of plants which includes Australian natives like bottle brush (Callistemon spp.), tea tree (Melaleuca spp.) and eucalypts (Eucalyptus spp., Angophora spp., and Corymbia spp.). The disease can cause deformed leaves, heavy defoliation of branches, reduced fertility, dieback, stunted growth, and plant death.

Source: Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment: Myrtle rust (Austropuccinia psidii)

Earth Learning Australia Myrtle Rust Rescue Project start: Tue Nov 19, 2019

Project finish: tba

Many will have heard of the Myrtle Rust disease that is attacking dozens of Myrtaceae species in the wild – Llllypillys, Rhodamnias, Rose myrtles, Paperbarks and many more. Few of us would realize just how much damage it has wrought on our native forest ecosystems. Three species once common in the Tweed are now on the brink of extinction and many more look set to follow.

Volunteer group Earth Learning has been collecting a selection of affected species and propagating them under license as part of a Saving Our Species initiative. The plants are direct clones of parents in the wild. The idea is to preserve a genetic representation of these iconic species, some with restricted range, which are barely hanging on in the wild.

Earth Learning Australia is NSW National Parks licenced to collect Rhodamnia rubescens (Scrub Turpentine) and Rhodomyrtus  psidoides (the Native Guava).  Once regarded as common, these species are now listed as Critically Endangered in the wild due to Myrtle Rust, which is wind blown, and reaching all lowland and highland areas of the Tweed/ Border Ranges, reducing the plant's ability to flower, fruit and reproduce.

First collection of cuttings from Springbrook were collected by Lui Weber, and delivered to Limpinwood Gardens Nursery for propagation in 2019, with the first Myrtle Rust Rescue Ex-Situ Planting​ happening on Sat Oct 23, 2021.


Additional ex-situ plant sites have been identified and are being negotiated, for properties located on the Sunshine Coast, Byron hinterland and south to Coffs Harbour, as at 20/03/23.  Check the Earth Learning blog for any developments!

Links to pages and PDFs are in "Further Information" below.

Further Information  (Please note, external links below open in a new window.)


Myrtle Rust Management and Treatment


Additional information

Towards Recovery, various presenters.  Myrtle Rust National Symposium 2021

Myrtle Rust Rescue Ex-Situ Planting

Program: Sat Oct 23, 2021, 10:00 am – 1 pm

Where: 13 Doubleview Rd, Farrants Hill
Hosts: John & Lois Prior

Well attended by 15 volunteers who assisting with the first planting out of cloned specimans, they learned more about how the “Myrtle Rescue” program is attempting to preserve the biodiversity of Myrtaceae species that are the backbone of so many forest ecosystems in the Tweed.


This was followed by a short property tour & info session at morning tea.

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