Creeping lantana (Lantana montevidensis)

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


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. Young plants flower in November and December and older plants may flower all year.

Leaves are:
  • 2–3 cm long
  • bright green
  • oval shaped with pointed tips and serrated edges
  • 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
Fruit are:
  • green when young
  • reddish-purple when ripe
  • 6–8 mm across and contain one straw coloured 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
  • is much shorter.

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.   

How does it spread?

Creeping lantana has been planted intentionally as a garden ornamental.

By seed

Creeping lantana produces large amounts of seeds up to 5000 per square metre. Seeds are spread by:

  • birds, ants and other animals that eat the fruit
  • flowing water
  • mud stuck to boots and animals can also spread the seeds.

By plant parts

Stem fragments and uprooted plants can grow new roots if left on damp ground. Dumping garden waste can spread plant fragments.


Auld B.A. and Medd R.W. (1999). Weeds. An illustrated botanical guide to the weeds of Australia. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). 

Johnson, S. B., & Lisle, S. D. (2006). The problem with Lantana montevidensis (creeping lantana). In 15th Australian Weeds Conference, Papers and Proceedings, Adelaide, South Australia, 24-28 September 2006: Managing weeds in a changing climate (pp. 727-730). Weed Management Society of South Australia, Torrens Park, South Australia.

McKenzie, R. (2012). Australia's poisonous plants, fungi and cyanobacteria: a guide to species of medical and veterinary importance. CSIRO.

Parsons, W.T., & Cuthbertson, E. G. (2001). Noxious weeds of Australia. CSIRO publishing.

PlantNET (The NSW Plant Information Network System). Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, Sydney. Retrieved 2019 from

More information

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Successful weed control relies on 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 manage 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

Hand pulling or digging out plants is useful for small infestations or isolated plants. It is also useful in steep areas that machinery cannot access. Wear gloves when hand weeding. Dispose of all plant parts as creeping lantana can reshoot from parts left on the ground. I may be easier to pull the roots from moist soil after rain. Follow up when regrowth appears.

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. 


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


Spray plants when they are actively growing. Check the labels as some herbicides work best when plants are flowering.  Thoroughly cover all of the foliage. 

Keep 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 poisoning to calves.

Herbicide options

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

See Using herbicides for more information.

Dichlorprop 600 g/L (Lantana 600®)
Rate: 1 L per 200 L of water
Comments: Spray: completely wet all leaves and stems. For best results spray when flowering.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: 4 (previously group I), Disruptors of plant cell growth (Auxin mimics)
Resistance risk: Moderate

Fluroxypyr 200 g/L (Various products)
Rate: 500 mL per 100 L of water
Comments: Spray when flowering.
Withholding period: Do not graze failed crops and treated pastures or cut for stock feed for 7 days after application. See label for further information.
Herbicide group: 4 (previously group I), Disruptors of plant cell growth (Auxin mimics)
Resistance risk: Moderate

Triclopyr 300 g/L + Picloram 100 g/L (Various products)
Rate: 350 mL or 500 mL or 750 mL per 100 L of water
Comments: Use the lowest rate for plants less than 1 m tall and add an adjuvant. Use higher rates for plants 1-2 m tall. The highest rate for varieties that are known to be harder to kill.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: 4 (previously group I), Disruptors of plant cell growth (Auxin mimics)
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 pest 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.

Reviewed 2024