Pest and Disease Information Service:  Freecall 1800 084 881

eucalyptus wandoo tn
Myrtle rust infection on wandoo under laboratory conditions - Photo © Louise Morin, CSIRO

What is myrtle rust?

Myrtle rust (Puccinia psidii sensu lato), is a serious fungal disease that attacks and kills many plants belonging to the Myrtaceae family.

  • Myrtle rust is also known as eucalypt rust or guava rust.
  • In Australia, members of the Myrtaceae family include eucalypts, bottlebrushes, paperbarks and peppermint trees.
  • The fungus was first detected in New South Wales in 2010 and has since become established in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.
  • To date, myrtle rust has not been detected in Western Australia.

Possible impact in Western Australia

The likely impacts of myrtle rust in Western Australia, if it arrived here, are unknown. It is possible that myrtle rust could devastate our jarrah, karri, tuart and wandoo forests and other native habitats, including species already at high risk (particularly threatened plants).

Myrtle rust could also have an economic impact on eucalypt or oil mallee plantations, commercial honey and native flower production, and the garden industry, as well as tourism if natural landscapes were badly damaged.

There are 1,215 species in the Myrtaceae family in Western Australia, all of which could be at risk. Conditions in the south west of Western Australia are favourable to the development of the disease.

What to look for

Myrtle rust infection on Geraldton wax under laboratory conditions - Photo © L Morin, CSIRO
  • Infection occurs on young growing shoots, leaves, flower buds and fruits. 
  • Myrtle rust produces masses of powdery bright yellow or orange-yellow spores on the infected area. 
  • Leaves may become buckled or twisted and die as a result of the infection.
  • Myrtle rust is easily transported by wind but can also be spread through contaminated clothing, infected plant material, insect movement, and goods and equipment.

What to do if you find myrtle rust

If myrtle rust becomes widely established in the state, it will be extremely difficult to eradicate.

  • The Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia is coordinating Western Australia’s myrtle rust preparedness and response. 
  • Current efforts are focused on preventing its entry into Western Australia, early detection and prompt response. 
  • Report any suspect rust on Myrtaceae species to Pest and Disease Information Service on freecall 1800 084 881.
    • If possible, email a photograph and details of the plant location to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
    • Do not take a sample to send to the Pest and Disease Information Service. Cutting off a piece of diseased plant could dislodge the spores and accelerate the local spread of myrtle rust.
  • Immediately wash any clothes and skin that may have come in contact with spores.
Myrtle rust infection on scarlet or crimson kunzea under laboratory conditions - Photo © L Morin, CSIRO

How you can help

The best defence against myrtle rust will be early detection. Everyone in the community can do their bit.

  • The Department of Agriculture has a website for people to register their plants and record their observations.
  • If plants of a species known to be susceptible grow near your home or work, you can regularly check for signs of myrtle rust.
    • A good species to choose for surveillance is the Western Australian peppermint (Agonis flexuosa). It grows well throughout the south west of the state, and is known to be highly susceptible.
    • The European myrtle (Myrtus communis) and various lillypillies (Syzygium species), although not native to Western Australia, are commonly grown as hedges. Because hedges are trimmed regularly to promote young growth, they make excellent surveillance sites for myrtle rust. If the rust is present, it should appear first on the new growth.

Further information

Climate suitability map for Myrtle rust in the south west of Western Australia
Climate suitability map for myrtle rust in south west Western Australia.
Darker red areas indicate higher climate suitability.
Produced using data provided by Darren Kriticos, CSIRO.