AUTHORITIES have destroyed trees at Lorne to stop the spread of a fungus attacking native plants.
But the Department of Primary Industries wants Colac and district people to know about the disease, myrtle rust, to prevent new cases.
Myrtle rust affects native plants in the myrtaceae family including eucalypts and bottle brushes, and can kill trees.
The disease is prevalent in New South Wales and Queensland and officials found it in Victoria in January.
Department of Primary Industries incident controller Gordon Berg said a Lorne homeowner found the disease in new native plants.
“It was in a new planting of syzigium,” Mr Berg said.
“The owner was quite happy for them to be destroyed,” he said.
“We’ve been in contact with Parks Victoria and DSE in the south-west and they’re looking for evidence of the disease.
“Our concern is if it gets into native forest areas such as higher rainfall areas including the Otways it could have a severe effect on some of the susceptible species.”
DPI officers have also detected myrtle rust in Melbourne and on the Mornington Peninsula.
“Most of the cases we have seen to date have been in the nursery system,” Mr Berg said.
“We have seen them in a number of public garden areas in metro Melbourne and the reality is that we don’t believe we can eradicate it from Victoria even now.
“So the aim would be to slow its spread and develop management strategies.”
Mr Berg said Colac and district people should familiarise themselves with the symptoms of myrtle rust.
“There are some fairly characteristic signs of it, including masses of yellow spores on young growth of susceptible species,” he said.
“And we do have some very good photographs and other symptoms on our website.”
People who suspect they have myrtle rust on their plants should speak to the DPI.