Lantana camara, one of the most invasive of plants that has taken over the country’s forests, driving wild animals out for foraging. In the Bandipur National Park, an estimated 60% is affected by Lantana, which hinders the growth of native vegetation that herbivores such as deer and elephants feed on. Further, its fruit is toxic to animals.Native to South America, Lantana camara was brought to India by the British as ornamental plants, possibly as long as 200 years ago
Lantana camara L.
Note: Lantana strigocamara R.W. Sanders – may soon become accepted as the name for the “species” that is widely naturalised in Australia.
Camara vulgaris Benth.
Lantana aculeata L.
Lantana armata Schauer
Lantana scabrida Sol.
Lantana tiliifolia Cham.
arch man, common lantana, curse of India, kamara lantana, lantana, large-leaf lantana, largeleaf lantana, pink flowered lantana, pink-flowered lantana, prickly lantana, red flowered lantana, red flowered sage, red sage, red-flowered lantana, red-flowered sage, shrub verbena, tick berry, white sage, wild sage, yellow sage
Native to Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean (i.e. the Bahamas, Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica and Puerto Rico) and tropical South America (i.e. Venezuela and Colombia).
Note: The lantana populations that have become naturalised in Australia and other parts of the world are thought to have originated from various cultivated hybrids and are not the same as the natural populations of Lantana camara from tropical America. Therefore, it has been suggested that the weedy populations derived from cultivated material be called Lantana strigocamara, to differentiate them from true Lantana camara.
Many weedy and non-weedy cultivars of this species have been grown as garden ornamentals in Australia.
This species is widely distributed and very common in the coastal and sub-coastal areas of eastern Australia from Cairns south to the central coast of New South Wales. It is also present in Western Australia, in the northern parts of the Northern Territory, in Victoria, in south-eastern South Australia, on Lord Howe Island and on Norfolk Island.
Also widely naturalised in other parts of the world, including on many Pacific Islands (e.g. in American Samoa, Western Samoa, the Cook Islands, the Galapagos Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Hawaii, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Palau, and the Solomon Islands), in Africa (e.g. Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and South Africa), in India and in south-eastern Asia (i.e. Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam).
A wide-ranging species found predominantly in tropical and sub-tropical environments, but also capable of growing in warmer temperate and semi-arid regions. It is a weed of roadsides, waterways, coastal environs, railways, fence-lines, waste areas, disturbed sites, closed forests, forest margins, grasslands, plantation crops, pastures and parklands. However, it is most commonly found growing in the understorey of open woodlands.
A much-branched, upright (i.e. erect), arching or scrambling shrub that usually grows 2-4 m tall and forms dense thickets. It can occasionally grow like a vine (i.e. as a scandent shrub) if given support by other vegetation, in which case it can reach up to 15 m in height.
- a rough-textured and usually prickly shrub with oppositely arranged leaves.
- its dense flower clusters consist of numerous small tubular flowers (9-14 mm long and 4-10 mm across).
- these flower clusters are borne on stalks originating in the leaf forks.
- the flowers can be a wide variety of colours (i.e. white, yellow, orange, red, pink or multi-coloured).
- its mature fruit (5-8 mm across) are glossy in appearance and black, purplish-black or bluish-black in colour.
Stems and Leaves
The young stems are usually green and square in cross-section (i.e. quadrangular). They are rough to the touch, often armed with short backwards-curved (i.e. recurved) prickles, and can sometimes be slightly hairy (i.e. puberulent). As they mature the stems become rounded and turn grey or brown in colour (growing up to 15 cm thick).
The simple leaves are oppositely arranged along the stems and borne on stalks (i.e. petioles) 5-20 mm long. They have toothed (i.e. crenated or serrated) margins and a somewhat wrinkled (i.e. rugose) appearance. The leaf blades (2-13 cm long and 1.5-7 cm wide) are mostly egg-shaped in outline (i.e. ovate) with pointed tips (i.e. acuminate apices). The texture of the leaves is usually quite rough (i.e. scabrous), however the undersides are usually softly hairy (i.e. pubescent).
Flowers and Fruit
The small flowers are borne in dense clusters (2-4 cm across), with each cluster containing about 20-40 flowers. These flower clusters are borne on stalks (i.e. peduncles) 2-10 cm long that originate in the leaf forks (i.e. axils). Individual flowers are tubular (9-14 mm long and 4-10 mm across) and may be a great variety of colours (i.e. white, cream, yellow, orange, red, pink or multi-coloured). They consist of four (rarely five) petals that are fused for most of their length into a tube (i.e. corolla tube) and split into small lobes at their tips. Flowering occurs throughout most of the year, but is most apparent during the spring and summer months.
The slightly fleshy (i.e. succulent) fruit resemble ‘berries’ (they are actually drupes). These small fruit (5-8 mm across) are initially glossy green in colour but turn black, purplish-black or bluish-black as they mature mature. Each fruit contains a single hard and stony seed (2-4 mm long) at its centre. These seeds are light brown in colour and egg-shaped (i.e. ovoid).