The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Lantana

Afrikaans name: Gewone Lantana

Lantana

Photo © Steven Herbert

Lantana camara

The Lantana is an exotic shrub that has taken over large portions of our countryside. It originates from Central and South America. It is a very adaptable plant that has spread to various parts of the world including Australia, Africa, South-east Asia and southern Europe. Lantana was introduced into South Africa, and other countries, as an ornamental plant.

It is an untidy looking shrub that can grow to a height of around 2 metres. The stems are covered in short hairs and small thorns. Lantana bears flowers all year round in areas that don’t experience frost. The flowers are small and come in a variety of colours including orange, pink, yellow and white. The fruit is berry-like and starts off green and then turns to a dark purple colour when mature. The leaves have a rough texture and give off an unpleasant smell if crushed.

Despite being poisonous for cattle, the plant is used as a food source by some mammals, birds and insects. Butterflies and bees are attracted to the flowers while monkeys and birds eat the fruit.

There are two species of Lantana found in South Africa – Lantana camara and Lantana rugosa.

References and further reading

The Gardener - 2022/01 - Author: - Published: 2022 - Page: 29

Trees of Southern Africa - 3rd edition - Author: Keith Coates Palgrave - Published: 2002 - Page: 976

Wild About Johannesburg - Author: Duncan Butchart - Published: 1995 - Page: 110

African Wildlife - Vol 44 No 4 - Author: - Published: 1990 - Page: 232

SA Wild Flower Guide No 4 - Transvaal Lowveld - Author: Jo Onderstall - Published: 1984 - Page: 166

Struik Pocket Guides for Southern Africa - Poisonous Plants - Author: Eugene and Glen Moll - Published: 1989 - Page: 39

A Field Guide to Wild Flowers in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Region - Author: Elsa Pooley - Published: 2005 - Page: 422

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