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Friday, March 7, 2014


Do you remember this post where I wrote about the pesky plant Morning Glory ?
A pretty but invasive introduced plant here in Australia, but one I've seen in plant nurseries in England.

Well here's another one.

It's called Lantana and was introduced to Australia as an ornamental plant. It comes from  the tropical and sub-tropical regions of Central and South America.
Its first recording was in 1841  but it quickly escaped the colonial gardens and thrived under the favourable tropical, sub-tropical and temperate conditions of eastern Australia.

Pretty isn't it?
 The flowers are small and many, and it comes in several different colours.
It is flowering a lot at the moment in my area, an outer suburb with lots of open paddocks for horses and also plenty of areas of bush.

Lantana is one of Australia’s most debilitating invasive weeds.
It currently infests more than four million hectares of land across Australia, mainly in areas east of the Great Dividing Range in NSW and Queensland.

Lantana grows up to four metres high and often forms dense thickets.
Flesh of the plant produces a strong, aromatic odour when crushed.
In our family we call this BO ... Bush Odour
and it fills the air with its distinctive smell as you drive through heavily infested areas of Australian bush.
Lantana is a dry, scratchy, unattractive plant with square-shaped stems and short, curved and hooked prickles.
It is a very versatile plant preferring rich moist soils but able to survive prolonged dry periods.
It will tolerate poor soils and sand and will grow on stony hillsides as long as moisture is available.
In other words perfect for the east coast of Australia where it quickly invades areas that have been thinned or cleared for grazing and takes over preventing the growth of pasture grasses. 
But this is not its only bad feature.
All forms of lantana are toxic  to stock, and of all the colours the red-flowered forms are the most dangerous. Poisoning of stock due lantana can be quite substantial particularly in times of drought when there is little grass for the cattle to eat.
Horse owners always check their paddocks to keep them clear of lantana as death from lantana poisoning is slow and painful , usually occurring 1-4 weeks after the appearance of symptoms like constipation, frequent urination and jaundice.
Death is due mainly to liver insufficiency, kidney failure and, in some animals, myocardial damage and internal paralysis. 
( I've been doing some research !!! All I knew was that it was poisonous !)

Worse still this devil of a plant is very difficult to kill.
 Even bushfires don't kill it off
 and it regrows quickly from the base of the burnt off plant while the bush around it is slower to recover allowing it to get a bigger hold than ever.
There is a variety - low growing and spreading but not  invasive which is cultivated for people's gardens.

It has very pretty yellow or purple flowers which densely cover the plant giving a very pretty show

but you won't find it in the garden of anyone with any connection to farming the land !!

(all photos today from the Internet )



  1. Good Lord! I started reading this thinking, yes, it is pretty and I want some for here, it'll grow nicely over the sand that is my land. Then I read on and was so disappointed!

  2. Awful scratchy stuff too Hippo and the flowers are quite small.

  3. Invasive plants are a problem here too! I don't think ours are nearly as bad as yours though. Trying to keep an invasive, poisonous plant away from livestock sounds like a monstrous job. We have poison oak and Kudzu here.

  4. At the start of your post I thought - hmnnnn pretty and if it hards to kill I'll stick some in my garden ...but now Im thinking Better not !

  5. I've just planted some morning glory seeds, but they are only annuals. I hope!

  6. I have a trailing Lantana in my garden which has always been kept in check. I made a decision to take it out when I get back to Melbourne to make way for vegetables.
    Anne xx

  7. I never knew these lantana flowers were such a problem till I posted about them myself and you commented. I remember having them back home in W.A., just one bush though outside the bathroom. It was enormous, but it never spread probably because the ground was rock hard. I am horrified to hear they cause such a problem now, I'm sure if my Mum had known she would never have planted them. She had such a great love of native plants in W.A. Thank you for such an informative post.

  8. Lantana is sold as an annual in Central California, it always dies with the first frost. I had no idea what it could do in ideal situations, though. We have a similar problem with Scotch Broom, though I don't think it's poisonous. I plant morning glories in my flower garden. They usually reseed and I pull them out where I don't want them. It's so interesting to see how plants grow in other places. My favorite is the philodendron in Hawaii, where the leaves are as big as my kitchen table. Thank you for the tutorial.