Phytophthora cinnamomi (also known as die back, root rot, Jarrah dieback, cinnamon fungus, phyto) is a water-borne pathogen that found its way to Australia in the 1930s. It is listed in the top 100 of the world’s most invasive species and is the most serious plant pathogen in Victoria. Previously thought to be a fungus, this water mold attacks the root systems of many plants, including eucalypts, banksias and grass trees. The disease was first detected at Wilsons Promontory in 1970.
The water mold is most easily transported through moist and muddy soil. Walkers transport the disease by walking through contaminated soil and then entering disease free areas without having cleaned their shoes. Equipment that has been in contaminated soil, such as tent pegs, vehicle tyres and backpacks, can also transmit the pathogen.
You can help prevent the spread of Phytophthora cinnamomi when out and about in the bush, by applying the following rules of thumb:
– If in doubt, assume that an area is infected
– The disease can be present even if vegetation appears healthy, as symptoms take time to emerge
– Clean shoes, gaiters and equipment before accessing vegetation and after completing your bush-walking activity.
– If possible, avoid wet and muddy walking/driving areas. Keep to formed tracks.
– Carry cleaning solution spray bottle and brush for your shoes. The cleaning solution is easy to make up at home: 30% methylated spirits and 70% water; or 1 part bleach to 4 parts water.
Until it was discontinued recently, Friends of the Prom has worked with a Victorian National Parks Association (VNPA) program to monitor PC dieback at a number of sample plots at the Prom. We are currently seeking a replacement program to continue this work.