Lantana (Lantana camara)

Lantana is a scrambling shrub with colourful flowers. It is a widespread weed in coastal areas.

Profile

How does this weed affect you?

Lantana:

  • is poisonous to animals and humans
  • invades native grassland and pastures
  • invades eucalyptus and pine plantations
  • fuels bushfires
  • can restrict access to bushland and waterways
  • costs land managers more than $22 million each year to control.

Lantana provides some shelter for native fauna.

Human poisoning

All parts of the plant are poisonous if eaten and can cause:

  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • weak muscles
  • breathing problems
  • death.

Touching lantana can irritate skin and eyes.  

What to do if a person is poisoned:

  • If the patient is unconscious, unresponsive or having difficulty breathing dial 000 or get to the emergency section of a hospital immediately.
  • If the patient is conscious and responsive call the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 or your doctor.
  • If going to a hospital take a piece of the plant for identification.

Livestock poisoning

All types and parts of lantana are considered poisonous to stock. Red-flowered lantana is most dangerous. Stock poisoning is common. It happens most when new animals are introduced into lantana areas and there is no other feed. Cattle used to grazing lantana-infested land are less likely to eat it.

Early symptoms of lantana poisoning include:

  • depression
  • loss of appetite
  • constipation
  • frequent urination
  • jaundice for 1 – 2 days
  • inflamed eyes with a slight discharge.
  • mouth area becoming inflamed, moist, and very sensitive, with a pink nose.
  • bare skin becoming very sensitive to light, red and swollen, or may crack, turn black, and die.

Stock usually die 1 – 4 weeks after symptoms appear. Death is slow and painful from liver and kidney failure. Some animals have heart damage.

What does it look like?

Lantana is a usually a dense shrub, although it can drop its leaves in dry times. It usually grows from 2 – 4 m high but can scramble up into trees. There are five main types with different flower colours: pink, red, orange, white and pink-edged red. Red lantana has pricklier stems and darker green leaves than pink lantana.

Stems are:

  • square
  • with short, curved prickles.

Leaves are:

  • rough and bright green on top
  • hairy and pale green underneath
  • with serrated edges
  • fragrant when crushed
  • in pairs, opposite each other on stems
  • on a short stalk
  • about 10 cm long
  • 2 – 8 cm wide
  • egg to spearhead-shaped.

Flowers are:

  • in clusters
  • different colours depending on the type of lantana, age and location. Flowers can be pink, red, orange, white and pink-edged red
  • produced almost year round.

Fruit are:

  • 6 – 8 mm in diameter
  • round berries
  • in a group
  • green to start
  • shiny, dark purple-black when ripe
  • with one seed per fruit.

Roots are:

  • shallow, mostly in the top 10 – 30 cm of soil.

Where is it found?

Lantana’s range extends from Bega Shire in southern NSW to Cape Melville in north Queensland. It is present on Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands. The main infestations are east of the Great Dividing Range in NSW and QLD.

Pink-edged red lantana grows on the:

  • North Coast around Kempsey, south-east of Dorrigo, Bellingen, in the Coffs Harbour and Grafton areas
  • Central Coast.

Red varieties grow on the North Coast, around Kempsey, Bellingen and Coffs Harbour.

Lantana is unlikely to invade new regions in NSW. It is increasing in density and invades new areas within its range.

Lantana comes from the tropical and subtropical regions of Central and South America. It was introduced to Australia in 1841 as an ornamental plant. By the 1860s it was common in Sydney and Brisbane.

What types of environment does it grow in?

Lantana can quickly colonise roadsides, power line and railway easements, river banks, fence-lines, forestry, pastures, open native woodlands and subtropical rainforest edges. Lantana can grow in steep, inaccessible areas. Lantana often invades disturbed areas where vegetation has been cleared. It’s less likely to grow in undisturbed bushland.

Lantana prefers:

  • warm weather with more than 900 mm annual rainfall
  • well-drained, fertile soils
  • coastal areas
  • altitudes up to 1000 m.

Lantana can survive periods of drought. It tolerates poor soils and sand and will grow on stony hillsides as long as moisture is available.

Lantana is slowed by:

  • cold weather (it stops growing when temperatures are below 5°C)
  • low light
  • some soils (waterlogged conditions, heavy clays, salt-affected).

Distribution map

How does it spread?

Lantana was sold as an ornamental plant.

By seed

A single plant can produce up to 12,000 fruit (and seeds) in a year. Most seeds are spread by birds and some animals that eat the fruit. Lantana seed is more likely to germinate if it has been through the gut of a bird or mammal. Seeds are also spread by water, in soil, on machinery and garden waste.

About half of seeds remain viable for up to two years in dry conditions and some may survive for five years.

By plant parts

Lantana regrows after cutting back, even if cut to the base. Cut stems grow new roots when they contact damp soil.

Other publications

back to top

Control

Successful weed control takes time and follow up efforts to monitor and suppress weeds. A combination of control methods is usually needed.

To control lantana:

  • gradually control sections of large infestations, starting at the edges (do as much at a time as you can follow up)
  • dry or frosty periods are good times to work on mature lantana plants
  • treat regrowth or seedlings before they are 1 m high
  • control young plants before they are a year old to prevent new fruit and seeds
  • in summer, look for a flush of seedlings after rain, and kill the seedlings 1 – 3 after the rain event (lantana seeds can germinate year round but peak after summer rain).
  • 1 – 3 months after clearing, burning or cultivation, look for regrowth or new seedlings and control them.  
  • 3 – 6 months after the end of a dry spell, look for dry lantana that appeared dead reshooting from the base, and control the regrowth
  • in spring, look for plants that reshoot after frost damage, and control the survivors.

Physical removal

When: year round, after rain when soil is moist.

Follow-up: within 3 to 6 months.

Hand pulling can work on small infestations, isolated plants and in steep areas that machinery cannot access. The best time is after rain when soil is moist. Wear gloves when hand pulling. Grub out roots with a mattock or hoe, then roll and haul the stems and roots away. Remove the roots and stems or the lantana will regrow.

Bulldozing or slashing can remove large bushes, and help access through infestations. Avoid disturbing large areas at any one time to avoid leaving large areas of bare ground, risking soil erosion. Revegetate and monitor bare areas for regrowth.

Slashing can be used to suppress and contain large infestations. It won’t kill the plants and follow up control of regrowth is needed. Reducing the height and density of thickets allows other treatments.

Cattle familiar with lantana can break up thickets and help create access tracks for other controls. Watch for any signs of poisoning (see Livestock poisoning above).

Pasture management and trampling by cattle

Maintaining good pasture cover helps stop lantana seedlings from growing.

Fire

Fire can reduce the height and density of lantana. Fire rarely kills lantana, and plants soon recover. Risks of using fire include:

  • destroying desirable vegetation
  • exposing soil and causing erosion.

Biological control

Since 1914, 32 biological control agents (insects and diseases) have been introduced to help control lantana. 19 have become established and help to reduce lantana in some areas. 

Even if biological control agents are helping to reduce your lantana, you can still use most other control methods to reduce it more. Spraying the leaves with herbicide won’t work on plants that are affected by biological control agents, but you can still use cut-stump or basal bark methods of chemical control, or physical removal (see above and below). Burning will only be effective if there is enough fuel (i.e. enough dry leaves left on the lantana and surrounding vegetation).

There is no need to keep an area of lantana for the sake of a biological control agent.

Disease

The lantana rust (Prospodium tuberculatum) was introduced from Brazil in 2001. It attacks the pink-flowering Lantana. It appears to tolerate a range of climatic conditions.

Insects

Leaf mining beetles Uroplata girardi and Octotoma scabripennis are most effective. Larvae of both these insects feed on lantana leaves. This slows growth and reduces flowering.

The leafsucking bug Teleonemia scrupulosa also feeds on leaves.

The lantana seed fly, Ophiomyia lantanae, attacks flowers, fruit and seed. Adults feed on the flowers. Larvae feed on fruits and seeds.

These insects have already spread throughout areas they will colonise. Look for bugs or larvae on both sides of the leaves, or insects on the flowers, fruit or stems. These insects may cause damage at some times of the year and no damage at other times.

Chemical control

Pink flowered lantana is easier to control with herbicide. Red flowered varieties are harder to kill.  

Spraying leaves

Small plants less than 2 m can be sprayed at any time of the year as long as they are actively growing. Stressed plants don’t take up much herbicide. Treat regrowth from burning, cutting, slashing or frost when plants are 30 cm to 1 m high.

Spray mature lantana (>2 m high) between February and the first frost.

Early morning or late afternoon is the best time to spray during Autumn.

Gas or splatter-gun

Splatter-guns use small amounts of highly concentrated herbicide.  A five-litre bottle of mixed herbicide should cover about 0.2 hectares of lantana. The splatter gun:

  • works best on dense infestations at least 300 mm high
  • limits off-target plant damage
  • is good for hard-to-access and steep areas
  • can be used year round if plants are actively growing, but works best during summer
  • is cheaper than traditional foliar spray methods.

Spray before 10 am and after 3 pm when it’s cool. Angle the gun at 45 degrees and spray an arc over the top of the plant and down the front face. Apply 2 squirt lines per half a metre of plant height. The amount to apply will depend on the herbicide concentration. Do not spray until herbicide runs off.

Do not use the splatter-gun:

  • in wet weather
  • when there is water or dew on the plants
  • on spindly lantana regrowth.
Spraying stems

Applying herbicide to the stems is called ‘basal barking’. It’s effective at any time of year. Mix herbicide with diesel. Apply around all stems from the ground up to 30 cm high by:

  • spraying at low-pressure
  • painting on with a brush.
Cut stump method

Cut stems off at about 15 cm from the ground. Apply herbicide to the cut surface of the stump within 15 seconds. Treat every cut stem because lantana regrows vigorously from untreated stems.

Herbicide options

WARNING - ALWAYS READ THE LABEL
Users of agricultural or veterinary chemical products must always read the label and any permit, before using the product, and strictly comply with the directions on the label and the conditions of any permit. Users are not absolved from compliance with the directions on the label or the conditions of the permit by reason of any statement made or not made in this information. To view permits or product labels go to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority website www.apvma.gov.au

See Using herbicides for more information.


2,4-D 300 g/L + Picloram 75 g/L (Tordon® 75-D)
Rate: 650 mL per 100 L of water
Comments: High volume spot spray. Thoroughly wet foliage and soil around the base of plant during March to May.
Withholding period: 1-8 weeks (see label).
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


2,4-D amine 625 g/L (Amicide® 625)
Rate: 320 m/L in a 100 L of water
Comments: Apply to actively growing bushes.
Withholding period: 7 days.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


Dichlorprop 600 g/L (Lantana 600®)
Rate: 1.0 L per 200 L of water
Comments: Spot spray application, completely wet all leaves and stems.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


Fluroxypyr 140 g/L + Aminopyralid 10 g/L (Hot Shot™ )
Rate: 500 mL per 100 L of water
Comments: Seedlings and regrowth 0.5–1.2 m height. Apply to actively growing plants.
Withholding period: 7 days. See label for export restrictions.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


Fluroxypyr 140 g/L + Aminopyralid 10 g/L (Hot Shot™ )
Rate: 700 mL per 100 L of water
Comments: Mature plants and regrowth 1.2–2.0 m. Apply to actively growing plants.
Withholding period: 7 days. See label for export restrictions.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


Fluroxypyr 200 g/L (Starane™)
Rate: 500 mL or 1.0 L per 100 L of water
Comments: Apply to actively growing bushes from October to April. Use lower rate on seedlings or bushes to 1.2 m high, higher rate on bushes over 1.2 m.
Withholding period: 7 days.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


Fluroxypyr 333 g/L (Starane™ Advanced)
Rate: 300 - 600 mL in 100 L of water
Comments: Apply to actively growing bushes from October to April. Use lower rate on seedlings or bushes to 1.2 m high, higher rate on bushes over 1.2 m.
Withholding period: 7 days.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


Glyphosate 360 g/L (Roundup®)
Rate: 1.0 L per 100 L of water
Comments: Actively growing with full foliage. Avoid summer stress.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: M, Inhibitors of EPSP synthase
Resistance risk: Moderate


Glyphosate 360 g/L with Metsulfuron-methyl 600 g/kg (Various products)
Rate: 10 g metsulfuron-methyl plus 200 mL glyphosate per 100 L of water
Comments: Apply to bushes up to 2 m high. Thoroughly wet all foliage and stems. Add organosilicone penetrant.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: M, Inhibitors of EPSP synthase
Resistance risk: Moderate


Glyphosate 360 g/L (Roundup®)
Rate: 1 part per 9 parts water
Comments: Gas gun / Splatter gun application. Apply 2 x 2 mL doses per 0.5 m of bush height
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: M, Inhibitors of EPSP synthase
Resistance risk: Moderate


Glyphosate 835 g/kg + Metsulfuron-methyl 10 g/kg (Trounce®)
Rate: 1 measured pack (173 g) per 100 L of water
Comments: Apply when actively growing, thoroughly wet all foliage and stems. Do not apply during stress periods.
Withholding period: Nil (recommended not to graze for 7 days before treatment and for 7 days after treatment to allow adequate chemical uptake in target weeds).
Herbicide group: B, Inhibitors of acetolactate synthase (ALS inhibitors) + M, Inhibitors of EPSP synthase
Resistance risk: High/Moderate


Metsulfuron-methyl 300 g/kg + Aminopyralid 375 g/kg (Stinger™)
Rate: 20 g in 100 L of water
Comments: Hand gun application.
Withholding period: 3 - 56 days (see label)
Herbicide group: B, Inhibitors of acetolactate synthase (ALS inhibitors) + I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: High/Moderate


Metsulfuron-methyl 600 g/kg (Brush-off®)
Rate: 10 g per 100 L of water
Comments: Apply to bushes up to two metres tall. Spray to wet all foliage and stems. Re-treatment will be necessary.
Withholding period: Nil (recommended not to graze for 7 days before treatment and for 7 days after treatment to allow adequate chemical uptake in target weeds).
Herbicide group: B, Inhibitors of acetolactate synthase (ALS inhibitors)
Resistance risk: High


Picloram 100 g/L + Triclopyr 300 g/L + Aminopyralid 8 g/L (Grazon Extra®)
Rate: 350 - 500 mL in 100 L of water
Comments: Wet thoroughly, use higher rate on large bushes, 1–2 m tall. Low rates for bushes up to 1 m tall. Apply from summer to autumn.
Withholding period: Where product is used to control woody weeds in pastures there is a restriction of 12 weeks for use of treated pastures for making hay and silage; using hay or other plant material for compost, mulch or mushroom substrate; or using animal waste from animals grazing on treated pastures for compost, mulching, or spreading on pasture/crops.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


Picloram 44.7 g/kg + Aminopyralid 4.47 g/L (Vigilant II ®)
Rate: Undiluted
Comments: Cut stump application. Apply a 3–5 mm layer of gel for stems less than 20 mm. Apply 5 mm layer on stems above 20 mm .
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


Triclopyr 240 g/L + Picloram 120 g/L (Access™ )
Rate: 1.0 L per 60 L of diesel
Comments: Basal bark or cut stump application.
Withholding period: Nil
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


Triclopyr 300 g/L + Picloram 100 g/L (Grazon® DS)
Rate: 350 - 500 mL per 100 L of water
Comments: Wet thoroughly, use higher rate on large bushes, 1–2 m tall. Low rates for bushes up to 1 m tall. Apply from summer to autumn.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


Triclopyr 600 g/L (Garlon® 600)
Rate: 1.0 L per 60 L of diesel
Comments: Basal bark application for basal diameter less than 5 cm or cut stump application above 5 cm.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


back to top

Biosecurity duty

The content provided here is for information purposes only and is taken from the Biosecurity Act 2015 and its subordinate legislation, and the Regional Strategic Weed Management Plans (published by each Local Land Services region in NSW). It describes the state and regional priorities for weeds in New South Wales, Australia.

Area Duty
All of NSW General Biosecurity Duty
All plants are regulated with a general biosecurity duty to prevent, eliminate or minimise any biosecurity risk they may pose. Any person who deals with any plant, who knows (or ought to know) of any biosecurity risk, has a duty to ensure the risk is prevented, eliminated or minimised, so far as is reasonably practicable.
All of NSW Prohibition on dealings
Must not be imported into the State or sold
South East
Exclusion zone: whole region excluding the core infestation area of Eurobodalla, Kiama, Shellharbour, Wollongong and the Shoalhaven local government area north of the Lantana Containment Line at 35'11"42 S
Regional Recommended Measure*
Whole region: Land managers should mitigate the risk of new weeds being introduced to their land. The plant should not be bought, sold, grown, carried or released into the environment. Exclusion zone: The plant should be eradicated from the land and the land kept free of the plant. Core area: Land managers reduce impacts from the plant on priority assets.
*To see the Regional Strategic Weeds Management Plans containing demonstrated outcomes that fulfill the general biosecurity duty for this weed click here

back to top


For technical advice and assistance with identification please contact your local council weeds officer.
For further information call the NSW DPI Biosecurity Helpline on 1800 680 244 or send an email to weeds@dpi.nsw.gov.au

Reviewed 2018