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Managing Phytophthora Dieback in bushland

Phytophthora Dieback attacks many native plants and has the potential to have a significant impact on nursery, horticulture, floriculture, tourism, mining and forestry industries.

Phytophthora (pronounced fy-TOFF-thora) is a silent killer in our midst with the potential to have devastating impacts on ecosystems. It is a water mould that survives in water, soil and plant roots and kills plants by attacking and rotting their roots. This killer can also impact on native animals, including marsupials, birds, reptiles and insects, by reducing or eliminating vegetation they rely on for survival.

This disease kills plants and infection is permanent. We can help by:

  • Keeping it out
  • Limiting the spread and
  • Reducing the impact, using
    • Hygiene
    • Quarantine and
    • Treatment of infected plants.

Phytophthora is spread naturally in water and via infected roots, and faster and further by humans moving contaminated soil or plant material. It can remain dormant for long periods during dry weather and is virtually impossible to remove from infected areas. So we can only limit its spread by managing water and soil movement.

The five strategies approach below has been developed to manage Phytophthora Dieback in natural areas and is explained in our brochure, which is available to download. Use this strategy to understand the steps required to manage Phytophthora Dieback and the reference section for more details.

The five strategies are:

  1. Understand Phytophthora Dieback
  2. Assess for risk of disease
  3. Adjust work practices to reflect risk
  4. Inform all staff, contractors and visitors and 
  5. Treat infections.

Further details are available in Management of Phytophthora cinnamomi for Biodiversity Conservation in Australia, a document prepared for the Department of Environment and Heritage in 2006.

Phytophthora Dieback in natural areas

Banksia spinulosa showing Phytophthora Dieback

Dieback at Mt Hay, Blue Mountains National Park, associated with Phytophthora cinnamomi

Dieback in Glenbrook National Park associated with Phytophthora cinnamomi

Dieback of Xanthorrhoea caused by Phytophthora. Grass trees, Xanthorrhoea species, are highly susceptible to Dieback.

Remember, there are only three management objectives for Phytophthora Dieback

  • Keep areas free of infection
  • Reduce the spread of infection
  • Manage infected sites.

Contacts and further information

The following web sites have information on susceptible and resistant plants, and details on how to assess your site for Phytophthora, alter work practices and apply treatments.

For more information please contact:

Plant Disease Diagnostic Unit
The Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney
Mrs Macquaries Road
Sydney NSW 2000
Phone (02) 9231 8186 or 9231 8189
Fax (02) 9241 1135