A rough-textured and usually prickly shrub with oppositely arranged leaves. Its dense flower clusters consist of numerous small tubular flowers (9-14 mm long and 4-10 mm across). These flower clusters are borne on stalks originating in the leaf forks. The flowers can be a wide variety of colours (i.e. white, yellow, orange, red, pink or multi-coloured). Its mature fruit (5-8 mm across) are glossy in appearance and black, purplish-black or bluish-black in colour.
This species is widely distributed and very common in the coastal and sub-coastal areas of eastern Australia from Cairns south to the central coast of New South Wales. It is also present in Western Australia, in the northern parts of the Northern Territory, in Victoria, in south-eastern South Australia, on Lord Howe Island and on Norfolk Island. Also widely naturalised in other parts of the world, including on many Pacific Islands, in Africa, in India and in south-eastern Asia.
A wide-ranging species found predominantly in tropical and sub-tropical environments, but also capable of growing in warmer temperate and semi-arid regions. It is a weed of roadsides, waterways, coastal environs, railways, fence-lines, waste areas, disturbed sites, closed forests, forest margins, grasslands, plantation crops, pastures and parklands. However, it is most commonly found growing in the understorey of open woodlands.
A much-branched, upright (i.e. erect), arching or scrambling shrub that usually grows 2-4 m tall and forms dense thickets. It can occasionally grow like a vine (i.e. as a scandent shrub) if given support by other vegetation, in which case it can reach up to 15 m in height.
Lantana (Lantana camara) is one of the 20 Weeds of National Significance (WoNS) in Australia. It is regarded as a significant environmental weed in Queensland, New South Wales, and on Norfolk Island, and as a potentially significant environmental weed in Western Australia and the Northern Territory. This species is actively managed by community groups in Queensland and New South Wales, and was recently ranked as the most serious enviromental weed in south-eastern Queensland.It is also listed in the Global Invasive Species Database (GISD) and is regarded to be in the top 100 of the world’s worst invasive alien species.
The young stems are usually green and square in cross-section (i.e. quadrangular). They are rough to the touch, often armed with short backwards-curved (i.e. recurved) prickles, and can sometimes be slightly hairy (i.e. puberulent). As they mature the stems become rounded and turn grey or brown in colour (growing up to 15 cm thick). The simple leaves are oppositely arranged along the stems and borne on stalks (i.e. petioles) 5-20 mm long. They have toothed (i.e. crenated or serrated) margins and a somewhat wrinkled (i.e. rugose) appearance. The leaf blades (2-13 cm long and 1.5-7 cm wide) are mostly egg-shaped in outline (i.e. ovate) with pointed tips (i.e. acuminate apices). The texture of the leaves is usually quite rough (i.e. scabrous), however the undersides are usually softly hairy (i.e. pubescent).
The small flowers are borne in dense clusters (2-4 cm across), with each cluster containing about 20-40 flowers. These flower clusters are borne on stalks (i.e. peduncles) 2-10 cm long that originate in the leaf forks (i.e. axils). Individual flowers are tubular (9-14 mm long and 4-10 mm across) and may be a great variety of colours (i.e. white, cream, yellow, orange, red, pink or multi-coloured). They consist of four (rarely five) petals that are fused for most of their length into a tube (i.e. corolla tube) and split into small lobes at their tips. Flowering occurs throughout most of the year, but is most apparent during the spring and summer months. The slightly fleshy (i.e. succulent) fruit resemble 'berries' (they are actually drupes). These small fruit (5-8 mm across) are initially glossy green in colour but turn black, purplish-black or bluish-black as they mature mature. Each fruit contains a single hard and stony seed (2-4 mm long) at its centre. These seeds are light brown in colour and egg-shaped (i.e. ovoid).
This plant commonly reproduces by seeds, which are readily dispersed by birds and other animals (e.g. rodents) that eat the fruit. Existing colonies may also spread laterally via the production of suckers or when branches take root after coming into contact with the soil (i.e. by layering). Stem fragments or pieces of the rootstock (i.e. crown) can also give rise to new plants after being moved by machinery or dumped in garden waste.
Lantana (Lantana camara) is relatively similar to creeping lantana (Lantana montevidensis). However, creeping lantana (Lantana montevidensis) has a creeping (i.e. prostrate) growth habit and does not have prickles or thorns on its stems.