Lantana (/lænˈtɑːnə, -ˈt-/)[2] is a genus of about 150 species of perennial flowering plants in the verbena family, Verbenaceae. They are native to tropical regions of the Americas and Africa but exist as an introduced species in numerous areas, especially in the Australian-Pacific region, South and Northeastern part of India and Bangladesh. The genus includes both herbaceous plants and shrubs growing to 0.5–2 m (1.6–6.6 ft) tall. Their common names are shrub verbenas or lantanas. The generic name originated in Late Latin, where it refers to the unrelated Viburnum lantana.[3]

Wild-type Spanish flag (Lantana camara)
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Verbenaceae
Genus: Lantana
Type species
Lantana camara
Lantana Violet color from Arecode, Kerala, India

Lantana's aromatic flower clusters (called umbels) are a mix of red, orange, yellow, or blue and white florets. Other colors exist as new varieties are being selected. The flowers typically change color as they mature, resulting in inflorescences that are two- or three-colored.

"Wild lantanas" are plants of the unrelated genus Abronia, usually called "sand-verbenas".


Lantana overgrowing an abandoned plantation in Sdei Hemed, Israel

Some species are invasive, and are considered to be noxious weeds, such as in South Asia, Southern Africa and Australia.[4] In the United States, lantanas are invasive in the southeast, especially coastal regions of the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, and the Gulf Coast.

The spread of lantana is aided by the fact that their leaves are poisonous to most animals and thus avoided by herbivores, while their fruit is a delicacy for many birds, including the yellow-fronted white-eye of Vanuatu, the superb fairy-wren in Australia, the scaly-breasted munia, and the Mauritius bulbul in the Mascarenes; these distribute the seeds and thereby unwittingly contribute to the degradation of their home ecosystem.[citation needed]

Biological control of introduced lantanas has been attempted, without robust success. In Australia, about 30 insects have been introduced in an attempt to control the spread of lantanas, and this has caused problems of its own. The lantana bug (Aconophora compressa) for example is a polyphagous species introduced in 1995 that feeds on dozens of plants, and not only has it failed to have a noticeable impact on the lantana population, it has even become a pest in horticulture, parasitizing the related fiddlewoods (Citharexylum). The small Lantana-feeding moths Epinotia lantana and Lantanophaga pusillidactyla, while not becoming pests, have nonetheless failed to stem the spread of the invasive weed, as has the lantana scrub-hairstreak butterfly (Strymon bazochii) which was introduced to control lantanas on the Hawaiian Islands.

Other Lepidoptera whose caterpillars feed on lantana species include the common splendid ghost moth (Aenetus ligniveren), Aenetus scotti, Endoclita malabaricus, Hypercompe orsa and the setaceous Hebrew character (Xestia c-nigrum). The swamp wallaby (Wallabia bicolor) is one of the few mammals that eat lantana leaves without apparent ill effect.

Lantanas are useful as honey plants, and Spanish flag (L. camara), L. lilacina and L. trifolia are sometimes planted for this purpose, or in butterfly gardening. Butterflies which are attracted to lantana flowers are most notably Papilioninae (swallowtail and birdwing butterflies). Hesperiidae (skippers) and certain brush-footed butterflies (namely Danainae and Heliconiinae), as well as some Pieridae (e.g. cloudless sulphur, Phoebis sennae), Lycaenidae (e.g. the aforementioned lantana scrub-hairstreak), and Nymphalidae (e.g. Greta oto) also like to visit the plants' flowers. Consequently, as total eradication of Lantana seems often impossible, it may in many cases be better to simply remove plants with immature (green) fruit to prevent them from spreading.

Lantana can be used in butterfly gardening.

Some weaverbirds such as the black-throated weaver (Ploceus benghalensis) and the streaked weaver (P. manyar) highly value Lantana flowers for decorating their nests. An ability to procure spectacular and innovative decorations appears to be desired by females, and consequently is an indicator of the males' fitness.

In Australia it has been found that removing Lantana from urban greenspaces can have negative impacts on bird diversity locally, as it provides refuge for species like the superb fairy (Malurus cyaneus) and silvereye (Zosterops lateralis) in the absence of native plant equivalents.[5] There seems to be a density threshold in which too much Lantana (thus homogeneity in vegetation cover) can lead to a decrease in bird species richness or abundance.[6]

Ceratobasidium cornigerum is a higher fungus which parasitizes Lantana among other plants. The sweet potato whitefly (Bemisia tabaci) is a common greenhouse pest and is often distributed with infested lantanas.

Lantana species, especially L. camara,[7] contain pentacyclic triterpenoids that cause hepatotoxicity and photosensitivity when ingested by grazing animals such as sheep, goats, bovines,[8] and horses.[9] This has led to widespread livestock loss in the United States, South Africa, India, Mexico, and Australia.[8]


Multi-color Lantana flower

Lantana species are widely cultivated for their flowers in tropical and subtropical environments and (as an annual plant) in temperate climates.

Most of the plants sold as lantana are either Spanish flag (species of section Lantana and their hybrids, including L. camara, L. depressa, L. hirsuta, L. horrida, L. splendens, L. strigocamara, etc.), or trailing lantana (L. montevidensis).[10] Numerous cultivars of the Spanish flag exist, including 'Irene', 'Christine' and 'Dallas Red' (all tall-growing cultivars) and several recently introduced shorter ones. The shorter cultivars may flower more prolifically than the taller ones. Lantana montevidensis gives blue (or white) flowers all year round. Its foliage is dark green and has a distinct odor.

Although lantanas are generally hardy and, being somewhat toxic, usually rejected by herbivores, they may still become infested with pests.

The edibility of Lantana berries is contested. Some experts claim Lantana berries are edible when ripe[11][12][13] though like many other kinds of fruit, they are mildly poisonous if eaten while still green. Other experts claim that experimental research indicates that both unripe and ripe Lantana berries are potentially lethal, despite the claims by others that ripe berries are not poisonous.[14]

Extracts of Lantana camara may be used for protection of cabbage against the aphid Lipaphis erysimi.[15]

The Soliga, Korava and Palliyar tribal people of the MM Hills in southern Karnataka, India use lantana to produce roughly 50 different products. It is considered a "near match" to highly priced alternatives, cane and bamboo. Furniture made from lantana is resistant to sun, rain, and termite damage.[16]



The following species are recognised by The Plant List:[17]


  1. ^ "Lantana L." TROPICOS. Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved 2009-10-18.
  2. ^ "lantana". Lexico UK English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Archived from the original on 2022-05-30.
  3. ^ Holloway, Joel Ellis; Neill, Amanda (2005). A Dictionary of Common Wildflowers of Texas & the Southern Great Plains. TCU Press. p. 88. ISBN 978-0-87565-309-9.
  4. ^ Major, Tom (11 April 2021). "Aspiring Indigenous rangers fight weeds threatening Australia's endangered 'dry rainforest'". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 11 April 2021.
  5. ^ Archibald, Carla L.; McKinney, Matthew; Mustin, Karen; Shanahan, Danielle F.; Possingham, Hugh P. (2017-06-01). "Assessing the impact of revegetation and weed control on urban sensitive bird species". Ecology and Evolution. 7 (12): 4200–4208. Bibcode:2017EcoEv...7.4200A. doi:10.1002/ece3.2960. ISSN 2045-7758. PMC 5478067. PMID 28649333.
  6. ^ N.A., Aravind; Rao,D.; K.N., Ganeshaiah; R.U., Shaanker; J.G., Poulsen (2010). "Impact of the invasive plant, Lantana camara, on bird assemblages at Male Mahadeshwara Reserve Forest, South India". Tropical Ecology. 51 (2). ISSN 0564-3295.
  7. ^ Jones, Thomas Carlyle; Ronald Duncan Hunt; Norval W. King (1997). Veterinary Pathology (6 ed.). Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 718–719. ISBN 978-0-683-04481-2.
  8. ^ a b Barceloux, Donald G. (2008). Medical Toxicology of Natural Substances: Foods, Fungi, Medicinal Herbs, Plants, and Venomous Animals. John Wiley and Sons. pp. 867–868. ISBN 978-0-471-72761-3.
  9. ^ Burns, Deborah (2001). Storey's Horse-Lover's Encyclopedia: an English & Western A-to-Z Guide. Storey Publishing. p. 302. ISBN 978-1-58017-317-9.
  10. ^ Sanders, R.W. (2012) Taxonomy of Lantana sect. Lantana (Verbenaceae). Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas. 6(2): 403-442
  11. ^ Coppens d'Eeckenbrugge, Geo & Libreros Ferla, Dimary (2000) Fruits from America - An ethnobotanical inventory: LantanaArchived 2007-06-24 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 17 November 2007.
  12. ^ Herzog, F.; Gautier-Béguin, D. & Müller, K. (1996): Uncultivated plants for human nutrition in Côte d'Ivoire Archived 2019-01-27 at the Wayback Machine. In: Food and Agriculture Organization: Domestication and commercialization of non-timber forest products in agroforestry systems.
  13. ^ Texas A&M Research and Extension Center (2000): Native Plants of South Texas - Velvet Lantana Archived 2017-07-12 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
  14. ^ Tull, Delena "Edible and Useful Plants of Texas and the Southwest: A Practical Guide" University of Texas Press (1999) ISBN 978-0292781641
  15. ^ Shreth, Chongtham Narajyot; K. Ibohal; S. John William (2009). "Laboratory evaluation of certain cow urine extract of indigenous plants against mustard aphid, Lipaphis erysimi (Kaltenbach) infesting cabbage". Hexapoda: 11–13.
  16. ^ Siraj, M. A. (31 December 2013). "Putting a noxious weed to use". No. Bangalore. Deccan Herald.
  17. ^ "Lantana". The Plant List.
  •   Media related to Lantana at Wikimedia Commons
  •   Data related to Lantana at Wikispecies