Lantana camara L.
|Lantana camara flowers and seeds.
Credit: Auckland Regional Council
Lantana camara invasion in Hawaii
Common names: Big sage, black sage, wild sage, white sage, lantana, angel lips, tickberry.
Synonyms: Lantana aculeata L., Lantana nivea Vent., Camara vulgaris, Lantana scabrida Ait., Lantana brittonii Moldenke, Lantana tiliifolia auct. non Cham.
Life form: Shrub
Dispersal: Seeds are mainly dispersed by birds (often the mynah bird), but sometimes by goats, sheep, cattle, foxes, monkeys and rodents. Also reproduces and disperses vegetatively very easily. Introduced by humans for use as ornamental and hedge plants.
Reproduction: Produces small flowers coloured white, orange or red. Flowering can occur in the second growing season, and usually occurs all year round, but is most prolific during wet summer months. Flowers remain on the axillary inflorescence for three days and produce nectar. The species is pollinated by butterflies or thrips, as well as sunbirds and hummingbirds in some cases. There are conflicting reports over the plant's ability to self-pollinate. Large quantities of small greenish blue-black globose fruit of diameter 5 mm are produced all year. Seeds are 1.5 mm long and germinate very easily at any time of the year.
Herbivores: Leaves are rich in alkaloids, so are almost immune to herbivory. Many insect species attack flowers and stems in native region.
Resistant stages: Regenerates easily from base after damage, and is fire resistant.
Native habitat: Dry thickets
Habitat occupied in invaded range: Savanna, bushland, forests margins and gaps, riparian zones, agricultural areas, grasslands, disturbed sites.
|Altitude||Less than 2000 metres above sea level.|
|Light||Prefers unshaded habitats, although it can tolerate some shade. Seedlings require full sun in order to grow.|
|Temperature||Intolerant of frequent or prolonged freezing temperatures.|
|Annual rainfall||Less than 1000 to 4000 mm.|
|Soil||Low tolerance to boggy and saline soils, most varieties susceptible to frost.|
Only invades disturbed habitats.
Native to Central and northern South America, Caribbean Islands.
Introduced range: Invasive in East Africa, South Africa, Madagascar, tropical Asia, Middle East, Australia, New Zealand, Southern Europe, southeastern and western USA, and many Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Ocean Islands, such as Hawaii, Galapagos, Mascarenes, Seychelles and Azores. Introduced but not invasive in other Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Ocean Islands, including Micronesia and Canary Islands.
Ecosystem: Can become dominant understorey shrub by smothering native shrubs. The dense thickets can even transform forest into shrubland. Its allelopathic qualities can affect the growth of nearby plants. L. camara can stall natural forest regeneration and poses a serious threat to native endangered plant species.The plant is able to invade a wide range of environments. Its prolific all-year flowering allows rapid dispersal, and the seeds are spread fairly long distances by birds. On the Galapagos Islands, the dense thickets affect bird breeding by impeding flight. Its extensive seed production throughout the year encourages rat populations. The replacement of native pastures with L. camara in Kenya is threatening the habitat of the sable antelope.
Health, social and economic: The shrub can interfere with agricultural harvesting and reduce the economic viability of certain crops. It can also cause loss of pasture by invading agricultural land. There are many cases of cattle and sheep poisoning due to the shrub, particularly newly introduced young animals. Unripe berries are poisonous to humans and can cause death. The dense thorny thickets produced by the plant can deter human access. The soil has a lower capacity to absorb water in dense stands of lantana than in grass cover, increasing run-off and therefore soil erosion. The plant may reduce erosion in mountainous areas not previously covered by grass. Thickets can be a breeding ground for malarial mosquitoes in India and for tsetse flies infected with trypanosomes in East Africa.
Mechanical: May be difficult because stems are prickly and the plant often covers extensive areas. Isolated plants can be dug out. Physical removal or burning can be effective, provided that desirable trees are introduced to shade out regrowing L. camara plants.
Chemical: May be appropriate for small-scale infestations of when used in conjunction with other control methods. Effective herbicides include 2,4-D, MCPA, dicamba, triclopyr, Glyphosate and picloram. Foliar applications are effective on plants less than 2 metres tall; cut-stump or basal bark application should be used for larger plants.
Biological: Biological control has not been fully successful at controlling the plant, but make other control methods much easier. Many insects have been used to control the plant, as it is a serious agricultural pest in many countries. The following are examples of some of the most successful insect biocontrol agents:
Use of fungi for biological control is being trialled and seems to be a promising method of control. The pathogenic fungi Prospodium tuberculatum, Puccinia lantanae and Ceratobasidium lantanae-camarae are being considered for use as biological control agents.
The brown tree snake (Boiga irregularis) has been introduced in Guam and has slowed the spread of L. camara by decreasing bird populations that spread the seeds.
Weber, E., 2003. Invasive Plant Species of the World: A Reference Guide to Environmental Weeds. CABI Publishing, Wallingford, UK.
Cronk, Q.C.B. and Fuller, J.L., 1995. Plant Invaders. Chapman & Hall.
Walton, C., 2006. Lantana camara (shrub). Global Invasive Species Database. Available from http://www.issg.org/database/species/ecology.asp?si=56&fr=1&sts=sss (Accessed August 2006).
Binggeli, P., 1998. An Overview of Invasive Woody Plants in the Tropics. School of Agricultural and Forest Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor. Available from http://www.bangor.ac.uk/~afs101/iwpt/welcome.shtml (Accessed August 2006).
Last updated October 2006