Common name: Lantana

Scientific name: Lantana camara (Verbenaceae)

 

Alternative common names: Bird’s brandy; cherry pie; tick-berry (English), gewone lantana; gomdagga (Afrikaans), sumba (Shona); ubukhwebezane (isiZulu), ubutywala bentaka (isiXhosa)

lantana

Background

A spreading shrub or untidy scrambler growing up to 2m or higher. Stems usually covered with short, stiff hairs and recurved thorns. Dark green, rough, hairy leaves which are paler below and smell strongly when crushed. Pink, red, crimson, orange, yellow or white flowers in compact, flat-topped heads, often with several colours in one head, appear from September to April. Glossy green fruits which turn purplish-black. Poisonous

Where does this species come from?

Central and South America.

What is its invasive status in South Africa?

Category 1b

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, North West.

How does it spread?

Seed dispersal.

Why is it a problem?

Competes with and replaces indigenous species. Allelopathic suppression of indigenous species interrupts regeneration processes and reduces biodiversity of natural ecosystems. Dense stands in plantations obstruct access and utilization. Poisonous to humans and animals and responsible for livestock mortalities amounting to millions of Rands every year in South Africa. Reduces the grazing potential of the land.

What does it look like?

An untidy spreading shrub with four-angled stems and often with thorns growing up to 2m or higher. Leaves: Oval, dark green, rough, hairy leaves which are paler below. Flowers: Small, clustered, pink, red, crimson, orange, yellow or white flowers appearing from September to April. Fruit/seeds: Glossy green fruits which turn purplish-black.

Does the plant have any uses?

Used as a garden ornament and for hedging.