Creeping lantana (Lantana montevidensis)

Creeping lantana is a small sprawling shrub with purple flowers. It invades pasture and bushland along the coast.

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How does this weed affect you?

Creeping lantana:

  • is poisonous to people and calves
  • becomes a dominant groundcover
  • invades pastures and roadsides
  • invades native grasslands, woodlands and forests.

Human health

All parts of the plant, particularly the green berries, are poisonous to humans and can cause:

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

Touching creeping lantana can irritate skin and eyes.  

What to do if poisoning occurs:

  • 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

Creeping lantana contains an unidentified nerve-damaging toxin. It is transferred through milk. Calves from 6 weeks of age are affected if their mothers eat the plant. Symptoms include:

  • unsteady on the back legs and moving with head held high
  • skin damage on knees and hooves and sometimes back and face
  • partial or complete blindness  
  • diarrhea
  • dribble urine
  • watery eyes

What does it look like?

Creeping lantana is a sprawling shrub with stems that grow along the ground. 

Leaves are:
  • 2–3 cm long
  • bright green
  • serrated
  • opposite on the stem
  • fragrant when crushed.
Flowers are:
  • pink, purple or lilac with white or yellow centres when young
  • fully purple when they mature
  • 8–12 mm long and 4–8 mm wide
  • in clusters, 1–4 cm wide
  • present most of the year.
Fruit are:
  • green when young
  • reddish-purple when ripe
  • 6–8 mm across and contain one seed.
Stems are:
  • square
  • without prickles
  • 1–2 mm thick
  • weak and easily broken
  • about 1 metre long
  • dense, forming a mat.
Roots are:
  • woody 
  • matted.
Similar looking plants

Creeping lantana is similar to lantana (Lantana camara). Creeping lantana:

  • does not have prickles on its stems
  • has smaller leaves, only 2–3 cm long
  • grows only about half a metre high.

Where is it found?

The main infestations are along the north and central coast of NSW and southern QLD. 

In NSW it was commonly planted as an ornamental. 

Creeping lantana comes from the tropical and subtropical regions of Central and South America.

What types of environment does it grow in?

Creeping lantana invades rocky hills, pastures, woodland and riverbanks. It often grows over rocks, along tree branches, and on dry ridge tops with shallow, stony soils.   

More information

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Control

Successful weed control requires follow up after the initial efforts. This means looking for and killing regrowth or new seedlings. Using a combination of control methods is usually more successful. 

To tackle creeping lantana:

  • Maintain dense low pastures to prevent establishment.
  • Hand weed small infestations.
  • Reduce large infestations with slashing, cultivation, burning and chemical treatments.
  • Control regrowth until the plant is no longer present.

Physical removal

By hand

When: After rain, when it is easier to pull the roots from moist soil.

Follow up: When regrowth appears.

Hand weeding can work on small infestations or isolated plants. It is useful in steep areas that machinery cannot access. Wear gloves when hand weeding. Dispose of all plant parts as creeping lantana can re-shoot from parts left on the ground. 

By machine 

Cultivation can break up large infestations. Plants need to be removed from the disturbed soil otherwise they can reshoot. Repeated slashing can reduce reshooting. 

Fire

When:  Winter with dry, cool conditions and low fire danger.

Follow up: After burning, sow pasture or revegetate. Hand weed or spot-spray creeping lantana regrowth. 

Burning can help manage large infestations. 

Chemical control

Spraying

Keep grazing animals  lactating cows out of spray areas during and soon after treatment. Stress from the treatment can cause increased sugar levels in the leaves of lantana plants. This makes them more palatable and increases the risk of livestock poisoning to calves.

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.


Fluroxypyr 200 g/L (Staraneā„¢)
Rate: 500 mL per 100 L of water
Comments: Apply at flowering
Withholding period: 7 days.
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 mL and 500 mL or 750 mL per 100 L of water
Comments: Lower rate for plants less than 1 m tall.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


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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.

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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 2019