Native guava leaves infected with myrtle rust in Brisbane. Picture: Rod Fensham
Native guava leaves infected with myrtle rust in Brisbane. Picture: Rod Fensham

Native plant continues to fight back against global disease

A LIFELINE has been given to an Australian plant on the brink of extinction, as it continues to face a fungal plant disease which has spread rapidly across the globe.

The native guava is the first plant in Australia to be affected by myrtle rust, one of the most significant native plant diseases to enter our country.

Invasive Species Council Stanthorpe research officer Tim Low, who has studied the devastating plant disease said there isn't nearly enough awareness in Australia about how bad myrtle rust can be.

"It is devastating our rainforests," Mr Low said.

While Mr Low wants to see the native guava thriving in its own habitat, he said having the plant in cultivation is essential to avoid its extinction.

"This is an absolute essential in saving an important rainforest species."

 

Scientists assess myrtle rust impacts in Daguilar National Park. Picture: Boris Laffineur
Scientists assess myrtle rust impacts in Daguilar National Park. Picture: Boris Laffineur

 

Originating in South America, Mr Low said it would be 'amazingly serious' if other strains of the disease were to find their way into Australia.

"This would cause major problems for our eucalypts.," he said.

"Our national parks would be a mess."

Since the disease arrived in Australia more than 10 years ago, researchers have been monitoring native guavas at 66 sites in Queensland and New South Wales.

During that time all but 10 plants have died, where the remainder reside at a national park near Byron Bay.

To prevent complete extinction of the species, researchers have teamed up with nurseries and gardens to establish rescue populations away from myrtle rust affected areas.

As a result, 80 native guavas are now thriving in two gardens run by Toowoomba Regional Council.

 

Teghan Collingwood planting a native guava in Toowoomba. Picture: Rod Fensham
Teghan Collingwood planting a native guava in Toowoomba. Picture: Rod Fensham

 

Stanthorpe Wildflower Consortium secretary Liz Bourne said she was pleased to hear the plant was in good hands at Toowoomba.

"Hopefully the population becomes secure enough to return to the wild," Ms Bourne said.

"I am pleased that they made the offer to have the plant there.

"It will be interesting to see how it continues in a totally different climate," she said.

Stanthorpe Border Post


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