Lantana camara L.

Synonyms - Camara vulgaris, Lantana tiliifolia, Lantana scabrida.

Family: - Verbenaceae


Lantana is from the Latin lento meaning to bend and was the name of the European wayfaring tree Viburnum lantana which has similar foliage and flower structure.

Camara is the West Indian name of the plant.

Other Names:

Ach Man (Cambodia), Bunga Tayi Ayam (Malaysia), Cambara de Espinto (Brazil), Common Lantana, Cuasquito (Nicaragua), Large-leaf Lantana (USA), Latora Moa (Tahiti), Pha-ka-krong (Thailand), Red-flowered Sage, Tick Berry, Wild Sage (Jamaica), White Sage (Trinidad)


Lantana (Lantana camara) is a perennial, evergreen, many branched, pleasant smelling, dense scrambling shrub to 2-4 m high with arched branches and young growth with small prickles and stiff hairs. The leaves are opposite, egg-shaped to heart-shaped, 20-100 mm long and 15-80 mm wide, prominently veined and variably toothed. The leaf surface is rough to touch on the upper surface and hairy underneath. The flowers are in dense, flat-topped clusters held on long stalks and range from cream, pink, orange, red, yellow to purple in colour. Each flower is 4-8 mm across, tubular and usually with 4 spreading lobes and with 4 stamens hidden within the flower tube. The succulent fruit is initially green, turning black when ripe and 4-8 mm across.

Lantana is native to warm areas of both North and South America. It was introduced as an ornamental or hedge plant and is now a weed of waste land near settlements. Lantana has become a serious bushland weed of eastern Australia as it is readily spread by birds and has the potential to form very dense thickets choking native vegetation. Flowers can be seen at most times of the year with a flush in March and from June to August.




First leaves:


Opposite pairs. Yellow green to dark green. Widely spreading. Strong odour when crushed.

Stipules - None

Petiole - Usually 5-20 mm long. Densely hairy.

Blade - Egg to heart shaped, 20-100 mm long by 15-80 mm wide. Crinkled. Rough to touch on top (though occasionally glossy) and softly hairy below. Topside is darker than the underside. Prominent veins. Tip bluntly pointed to obtuse. Edges shallowly, bluntly and variably toothed. Base tapered to rounded. Sparse short stiff hairs.


Many branched, weak and to 5000 mm long by 5-50 mm diameter. Young stems are square, with hooked prickles on the angles, 2-4 mm diameter with a pithy core and covered in inconspicuous short, stiff hairs that are often glandular. Older stems may loose their hairs and prickles and become brittle, woody and arching or scrambling and turn grey to brown

Coppices (forms new stems) when cut.

Flower head:

Axillary, almost flat topped clusters of 20 or more flowers (corymbs) about 20-30 mm diameter, on stalks (peduncles) usually 20-100 mm long with short stiff hairs. Flower head (corymb) 20-25 mm wide. Small, 4-7 mm long, stiffly hairy, lance shaped bracts under each flower.


Cream to yellow or pink to mauve becoming orange or red to lilac up to 9-12 mm long. Bisexual. See Hybrids section below for flower colour forms.

Ovary - Superior. 2 celled. 1 ovule per cell.

Calyx - 1-2 mm long loosely surrounding the base of the corolla tube. Almost flat topped, membranous. Tiny hairs.

Petals - Cream to yellow or pink to mauve becoming orange or red. Tubular 8-14 mm long, cylindrical and slightly curved with 4 spreading lobes, 4-8 mm diameter. 'Petals' round tipped and wavy. Hairy outside

Stamens - 4, attached inside corolla tube.

Anthers - 2 celled. lengthwise slits on the inside.


Initially green ripening to Black or dark purple, globular, 4-8 mm diameter berry (drupe), longer than calyx. In clusters of 1-20 fruits. Succulent outside and bony inside, splitting in half to one seeded fruitlets.

Several thousand fruits may be produced by a plant in a year.

The main fruit set is at the end of summer.


Pale yellow, egg shaped, 2-4 mm long, hard and stony


Shallow extensive root system with robust, brown, woody crowns. Form suckers.

Key Characters:


No stipules.

Leaves opposite, ovate and distinctly petiolate

Flowers > 8 mm long and many in pedunculate head-like clusters

Style arising from summit of entire ovary

Fruit succulent or fleshy

Adapted from B.L. Rye, B.J. Conn.


Life cycle:


Seeds germinate at any time of the year that is warm and moist with most germinating after the first summer storms. Initial growth is slow as root systems are established. Establishment under dense infestations is usually poor. They grow for 2-3 season before flowering mainly in spring and summer. The flowers mature from the outside of the cluster progressively toward the centre and change colour with age. The mature plants produces new shoots from the crown and lateral roots in early spring and these flower in early summer. New shoot production is encouraged if top growth is removed or damaged. Branches usually die after a few years and are replaced by new ones forming impenetrable thickets when plants are close to each other.

Growth is greatest in warm, wet weather and almost stops in cool weather or during dry periods.


Not very drought tolerant.

Shade tolerant.

Thickets burn easily in dry weather.

Leachates from Crofton Weed inhibit germination of Lantana seed and Crofton Weed will often displace it.


By seed, stem layering and suckering from roots.

Flowering times:

March and June to August in WA.

Throughout the year with the main flowering from September to April in eastern Australia.

January to December in New Zealand.

Seed Biology and Germination:

Thousands per plant may be produced in a year from an established bush.

Seed viability is usually less than 50%.

Seeds normally germinate in the warm moist periods of the year.

Establishment is poor under dense infestations.

Vegetative Propagules:

Stems may layer and take root where they touch moist soil.


Hundreds of different hybrids and cultivars have been introduced. There is little evidence of hybridisation in the field but occasionally a branch of a hybrid will revert to its wild type and breed truly.

Basic chromosome number of 11 with multiples of this in some hybrids. 4 groups were found in Australia based on chromosome number.

At least 29 forms are naturalised in Australia that fall into 4 major groups based on flower colour;
  1. Red flowered forms - Orange or dark yellow initially turning red with age. Two sub groups - the pink edged reds and the dark reds.
  2. Pink flowered forms - Pale yellow or white turning pink with age. Two sub groups - the small flowered and the large flowered.
  3. White or pale pink forms
  4. Orange flowered forms - Dark yellow to orange and retain their colour with age.
Alternatively, the Lantana complex is often broken into to major groups;
  1. Thornless types - Have few thorns and produce little seed and are the majority of the cultivars in the nursery industry.
  2. Thorny types - Have long, rambling thorny stems and produce large amounts of seed.

Probably allelopathic.

Leachates of Lantana inhibit the growth of human cholera.

Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Short distance spread is mainly by suckering and layering.

Medium distance spread is by seed carried by birds, mammals, water flows, garden refuse and contaminated soil.

Long distance spread is usually by transport of plants for sale or barter.

Origin and History:

Tropical to warm temperate parts of North and South America and Brazil.

Introduced to Europe in the 17th century

Horticultural forms often developed and introduced from Europe.

Introduced as an ornamental or hedge plant and grown by McArthur at Camden Park in 1843. In Brisbane by the 1850's.

It occurs in SA and southern WA but is far less aggressive than on the eastern seaboard.

Eradicated from bushland near Kununurra in 1995.



Canning and Swan rivers and around old settlements in WA.

New Zealand and 47 other countries.

Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands.


Rainforests, riparian areas, wetlands, coastal dunes, sclerophyll forest.


Frost free areas receiving more than 700 mm annual rainfall are preferred. It tolerates a wide range of climates including dry and humid climates from sea level to 2000 m.


Prefers moist well drained, fertile soils.

On sandy soils in moist areas in WA.

Plant Associations:



Ornamental hedge plant.

Leachates of Lantana inhibit the growth of human cholera (Vibrio cholerae)


Serious bushland weed of eastern Australia infesting over 4 million hectares.

Produces dense thickets that prevent recruitment of native species, alter soil chemistry and nutrient cycling. Probably allelopathic.

Weed of plantation crops and pastures, citrus, coconut, timber and rubber plantations.

Listed a one of the "Worlds Worst Weeds", a "Weed of National Significance"

Weed of many tropical countries.

It may become the dominant understorey in open forests and plantations.


Provides shelter for vermin and hosts plant diseases like Ascochyta phaseolorum and Physalospora fusca and insect pests such as Holothrips flaviceps and Thrips tabaci.


Toxic to stock and humans but no cases recorded for WA. Young animals and those not accustomed to the plant appear to be at greatest risk.

Red flowered variety is far more toxic than the pink flowered variety, though there are toxic pink forms in Queensland.

Contains triterpenoids.

Affects mainly cattle but also sheep.

The toxic dose of air dried leaves is 0.2-0.6% bodyweight over 1 to several days depending on the strain of Lantana. An intake of leaves amounting to 0.014% bodyweight per day had little effect on stock.

Children have been poisoned by the green berries.


Photosensitivity. Ears may become thick and scaly. Reddening of the muzzle (pink nose). Facial itching causing damage to eyes especially in white faced cattle. Yellowing of the membranes of the eye. Constipation. Failure to pass urine and loss of appetite. Inflammation of the stomach and intestine.


Remove stock from infestations to shady areas with easy access to water.

Give 500 g activated charcoal to sheep and 2-2.5 kg activated charcoal to cattle in a large volume of fluid.

Give liquid paraffin to alleviate constipation.

Introduce stock slowly to infestations and supply adequate alternate feed. Generally stock find it unpalatable.


Prohibited entry into Australia.

Noxious Weed o NSW and NT.

Banned in New Zealand.

Management and Control:

Cutting is ineffective unless cut ends are treated with herbicide as the plant readily forms new stems (coppices).

Slashing and burning alone are ineffective and usually result in greater infestations.

Dozing and burning, followed by disking and establishment of aggressive (perennial grass and legume) pasture species has worked well in Queensland. High seeding rates and adequate fertiliser are also required for good results. Remnant Lantana is spot sprayed with 2,4-D or dichlorprop. Pastures are burnt annually and finally the remaining plants are manually removed.

Spot spraying regrowth when the canes are 300-1000 mm long after burning with 2,4-D,dichlorprop, glyphosate or 2,4-D + picloram.


Eradication strategies:

Overall spraying is the most effective method of control. Spray, burn then spray regrowth for high levels of control. 1 L/ha Hotshot® provides reliable control at most times of the year when the plant is actively growing.

Fluroxypyr, glyphosate, triclopyr, 2,4-D and picloram also provide good control.

Small plants can be hand pulled. Larger plants are more difficult as the crown may fragment and root and stem pieces often regrow or are missed. Pull larger plants with a tractor and chain. Try to remove as much root as possible and burn on site.

Cut larger plants and paint cut stumps with neat glyphosate or 1:60 triclopyr in diesel. Trace back branches to ensure they have not taken root. Best results occur in warm wet periods of the year. Burn prunings so they don't start a new infestation.

In pasture areas, dozing and burning, followed by discing and establishment of dense, well fertilised, aggressive (perennial grass and legume) pastures works well. Remnant Lantana can be spot sprayed with 2,4-D and the remaining plants removed manually.

Alternatively, burn, then spot spray regrowth with 2,4-D, glyphosate or Grazon® when the canes are 300-1000 mm long.

Basal bark spraying with triclopyr or picloram + triclopyr in diesel or 2,4-D amine or glyphosate in water also provides good control. Best results usually occur in autumn but the treatment works reasonably well all year round. Soil applications of tebuthiuron also provides good control.

Slashing and burning alone are ineffective and usually result in larger infestations.

Herbicide resistance:

None reported.

Biological Control:

Over 20 biological control agents have been released over the last 70 years but few have had much impact.

Lantana Mealy Bug (Phenacoccus parvus) was found in Queensland in 1988 from unknown origins but is having some impact on Lantana. The adults are 2-3 mm long, cream, oval, without legs and covered in tiny warts and a white waxy powder and cluster at the base of the midrib on the underside of the leaves. The suck sap and produce honey dew that supports a black sooty mould. Young "crawlers", 0.3 mm long with legs move around the plant and from plant to plant. Lantana Mealy Bugs also attack a number of other species such as Amaranth, Chicory, Pepper, Potato, Siratro and Tomato.

Related plants:

Creeping Lantana (Lantana montevidensis) is a low growing shrub with wiry stems and pink-purple flowers with a yellow centre and reddish brown fruit. It is an invasive weed in NSW. Not recorded for WA.

Plants of similar appearance:

Native Peach (Trema tomentosa) has similar leaves to Lantana but has little odour.


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