Alert – Cinnamon Fungus found near Castlemaine!

The presence of Cinnamon Fungus, Phytophthora cinnamomi, has been confirmed by soil tests in the Porcupine Ridge area of the Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park where it has infected plants in the Pea and Protea families causing dieback.  Both Fryerstown Grevillea, Grevillea obtecta, and Scented Bush Pea, Pultenaea graveolans, both listed as Endangered under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 are affected.  Cinnamon fungus infects the plant roots and will kill infected plants.  There is a wide range of native plants that are susceptible to the disease.

In late 2023 Parks Victoria closed the Loop Track to vehicles with locked gates at either end in an attempt to slow the spread of this pathogen.  However, it is unlikely that Cinnamon Fungus is restricted to this area.  It is almost certainly along adjacent Wewak Track and Porcupine Ridge Road.  Fungal spores are spread in soil and by water.  People, vehicles and animals all transport the spores and subsequent infection to other areas.

Fryerstown Grevillea infected with Phytophthora cinnamomi. Porcupine Ridge. as seen from the road.
Photo: Euan Moore

Cinnamon fungus is known from all states in Australia and many countries around the world.  It is regarded as one of the most serious plant pathogens. There is no cure for infected plants.

What you can do

  1. As far as possible AVOID walking or driving in areas that are affected.
  2. When in affected areas KEEP TO TRACKS
  3. Avoid walking or driving through mud which facilitates the movement of infected soil to other areas.
  4. Keep all your footware and clothes and vehicle CLEAN so that you do not transfer the spores to other areas. If possible clean mud off your car before leaving the area.
  5. Scrub your boots and spray with an agent that will kill the spores (Phytoclean or other as below) BEFORE and AFTER your walk in the bush.

What to use for cleaning your boots

  1. Phytoclean spray will be available on all CFNC excursions.  Members may contact the club to obtain some Phytoclean for personal use. Please bring your own spray bottle to an excursion and we will fill it for you.
  2. Bleach diluted to 25% concentration.
  3. Methylated Spirits –  75% – 100% concentration.

To apply the fungicide use a small spray bottle such as used for indoor plants or for the bleach solution set up a tray with about 15mm of liquid which you can step into. With all the cleaning agents mentioned above, be careful to avoid skin contact.