Phytophthora Root Rot Introduction


Photograph showing dead grasstrees infected with Phytophthora root rot
Colour photograph showing dead grass trees infected with Phytophthora Root Rot.

Phytophthora ('fy-toff-thora') root rot is an introduced pathogenic water mould also known by the names: cinnamon fungus; jarrah dieback; wildflower dieback and by its scientific name Phytophthora cinnamomi. It is one of the worst invasive plant pathogens in the world and in Australia is recognised as a Key Threatening Process that severely degrades susceptible vegetation communities and kills susceptible plants.

It is believed to have been introduced to Tasmania following European settlement and is now well established in many areas of moorland, heathland and dry Eucalypt forest in Tasmania. Phytophthora root rot has the potential to significantly alter the plant communities in these vegetation types. Many different species of plants are affected by Phytophthora root rot, such as grass trees, egg and bacon plant, white waratah and Christmas bells.

Some threatened plant species in Tasmania are known to be declining as a result of Phytophthora root rot and more threatened species could also be affected should the fungus be introduced to their populations.

People can transport the fungus to new areas on dirt adhering to vehicles, items they are carrying or footwear. As the microscopic pathogen lies hidden from view within infected soil, it is best managed by precautionary cleaning of vehicles, footwear and equipment between sites you visit to ensure it is not transfered to uninfested bushland.

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