creeping lantana

Lantana montevidensis
Herb
Opposite
Simple
Pink
Purple
Green

A low-growing, long-lived, shrubby plant forming dense mats of vegetation over the ground. Its leaves are borne in pairs along the slender, unarmed, creeping stems. Its small tubular flowers are borne in compact clusters (1-4 cm across). These flowers (8-12 mm long and 4-8 mm across) are usually pink, mauve or purple with a white or yellowish coloured throat. Its reddish-purple to purple 'berries' are 6-8 mm across and contain a single hard seed.

Common names 
Also known as: creeping lantana, purple lantana, Sellow's lantana, small lantana, trailing lantana, trailing shrubverbena, weeping lantana,
Family 
Verbenaceae
Deciduous 
No
Flowering time 
Year Round
Native/Exotic 
Exotic
Origin 
Native to South America.
Notifiable 
No
State declaration 
Class 3
Council declaration 
Class R – Reduce populations
Known distribution 

This species is widely naturalised in eastern Australia (i.e. in eastern Queensland and some parts of eastern New South Wales). It is most common and widespread in the coastal and sub-coastal districts of south-eastern and central Queensland. Possibly also naturalised in the Northern Territory. Also naturalised in many other parts of the world, including New Zealand, Hawaii, New Caledonia and southern USA (i.e. California, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia and Florida).

Habitat 

Largely found in tropical and sub-tropical environments, and occasionally also in temperate and semi-arid regions. Primarily a weed of pastures, open woodlands, hillsides, railways, roadsides, embankments, disturbed sites and waste areas.

Habit 

A low-growing (i.e. prostrate or decumbent), long-lived (i.e. perennial), shrubby plant with a creeping, trailing or scrambling habit.

Impact and control methods 

Creeping lantana (Lantana montevidensis) is regarded as a significant environmental weed Queensland and as an environmental weed in New South Wales. It was also recently listed as a priority environmental weed in at least one Natural Resource Management region.

Stem and leaves 

The slender stems (1-2 mm thick) are four-angled (i.e. quadrangular) at first, but become woody (about 5 mm thick) and more or less cylindrical as they mature. These stems grow to about 1 m long and form dense mats over the ground surface. They sometimes also produce roots at their joints (i.e. nodes) where they come into contact with the soil. The leaves are oppositely arranged and are borne on short stalks (i.e. petioles) 2-4 mm long. These leaves (8-40 mm long and 5-25 mm wide) are egg-shaped in outline (i.e. ovate) with finely toothed (i.e. crenate or serrate) margins. Their upper surfaces are rough to the touch (i.e. scabrous), while their undersides are softly hairy (i.e. pubescent).

Flowers and fruits 

The small tubular flowers (8-12 mm long and 4-8 mm across) are borne in dense clusters (1-4 cm across). The flowers on the outer edges of these clusters open first, with the others opening successively inwards. Individual flowers are borne on short stalks (i.e. pedicels) all originating from the same point at the top of a longer flowering stem (i.e. peduncle) 2-8 cm long. The flowers are initially pink, mauve or pale purple with a white or yellowish coloured throat. As they age they change colour slightly, generally become entirely purple. Flowering occurs throughout most of the year. The fruit is a single-seeded fleshy 'berry' (i.e. drupe). These fruit (6-8 mm across) are green at first and turn pinkish, reddish-purple or purplish in colour as they mature. The pale seeds are stony and about 4 mm long. Note: some garden cultivars of this species do not produce fruit.

Reproduction and dispersal 

This plant reproduces by seed, which are dispersed when the fleshy fruit are eaten by birds and other animals. It also spreads across the ground laterally, occasionally rooting at the stem joints (i.e. nodes). Seeds and stem segments are occasionally dispersed in dumped garden waste.

Similar species 

Creeping lantana (Lantana montevidensis) is relatively similar to lantana (Lantana camara). However, lantana (Lantana camara) it a much taller plant with a more upright (i.e. erect) growth habit and usually has prickles or thorns along its stems.