Pine pitch canker

Fusarium circinatum

This fungus causes dieback in pine trees, including radiata pine, which is the main species of our forestry industry.

About pine pitch canker

This disease of pine trees is caused by the fungus Fusarium circinatum. It is native to Mexico. It has invaded the United States, Chile, Japan, South Korea, Spain, and South Africa.

Global distribution of pine pitch canker

World map showing distribution of pine pitch canker

Why this is a problem for New Zealand

This fungus causes dieback in pine trees, including radiata pine, which is central to our forestry industry. The disease can kill seedlings and cause adult trees to lose their entire canopy.

Map of New Zealand showing areas where pine pitch canker could establish.

How it could get here

Contaminated seeds are the most likely way this fungus could arrive in New Zealand. Biosecurity New Zealand has strict measures in place to limit the chances of pine pitch canker making it through the border.

But we need you to be vigilant, too. Whenever travelling to New Zealand, don't bring pine cones or pine seeds. If you do, you could face a $400 fine.

How to identify pine pitch canker

  • The wood under the bark is amber-coloured and resin-soaked.
  • Branches die back, leaving brown needles.
pine tree with brown needles
Pine affected by pitch canker. Source: CC 3.0

Report suspected cases

If you've found unusual dieback in pines:

  • photograph it
  • note location and any landmarks
  • call 0800 80 99 66

Note: This information is a summary of this disease's global distribution and potential impacts to New Zealand.

Last reviewed: