As I am discovering creeping lantana is one of those weeds that can cause a person to have nightmares. How much do you know about creeping lantana? I have been doing some reading of late and I have come across some very interesting facts about this invasive weed.
Luckily for me I have managed to obtain a copy of ‘The Creeping Lantana Handbook: a guide to ecology, control and management’ published in the late 1990’s. If you have one you’ll know that they are full of valuable information and now out of print; hard to find as well.
The handbook includes the well-known definition for a weed – ‘a plant out of place’. However, to become a serious weed a plant also needs the characteristics which enable it to take over. These include the ability to live in a range of environments, rapid growth, continuous en masse seed production and easy dispersal. Creeping lantana definitely checks most if not all of these boxes!
After rain you can see a mat of light purple creeping lantana flowers. Similar to the common lantana, each flower head has several flowers. Each flower on this head can produce a seed about 8mm in diameter, round and green in colour until it ripens to glossy brown/purple-black.Amazingly, each seed has the potential to produce two seedlings!
Creeping lantana can bounce back after the drought and grows in a range of environments.
This is what makes it such a successful invader.
Although there is also a sterile form of creeping lantana in Australia, the fertile, wild variety has become naturalised and has the potential to take over. If you see a light purple groundcover, look a little closer – don’t let creeping lantana creep up on you!
Michelle – Project Officer<
Close-up of Creeping Lantana in flower