Lantana camara – Lantana – Ajaytao
Common name: Lantana, Spanish flag: Irene, Christine, Dallas Red, Malaysia: Big Sage, Caribbean: Wild sage, Red sage, White sage, South Africa: Tickberry,
Hindi: Raimuniya राईमुनिया • Marathi: Tantani तणतणी, Ghaneri घाणेरी • Manipuri: সম্বল লৈ Samballei, Nongballei, থীরৈ Thirei • Tamil: உன்னிச்செடி Unnichedi • Kannada: Kakke, Natahu • Telugu: Pulikampa • Sanskrit: Vanacchedi
Botanical name: Lantana camara var. aculeata
Family: Verbenaceae (Verbena family)
Lantana species are pubescent or glabrous perennial herbs and scandent or erect shrubs. Lantana is a genus of about 150 species of perennial flowering plants in the verbena family, Verbenaceae. 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.
Flowers sessile, zygomorphic, Calyx copular, subentire, about 4 x 2 mm across, membranous, pubescent, bracts oblong or ovate, Corolla hypocrateriform, 5 lobed, 2 lipped, orange, pinkish red, purple, scarlet red, lower and midlobes subrotund, lateral lobes obtuse, Corolla hypocrateriform, 5 lobed, yellow, red, purple, white or blue. Stamens 4, didynamous, anthers ovoid. Ovary 2-loculed, 1 ovule in each locule, Style shorter than corolla tube, Corolla tube narrow curved, pubescent. Stamens 4, didynamous, filaments about 1 mm long, anthers yellowish, ovoid about 0.5 mm long, Ovary conical about 1 mm long, style stout about 3 mm long, stigma obliquely subcapitate. Calyx glabrous, membranous, truncate. 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. Due to extensive selective breeding throughout the 17th and 18th Century for use as an ornamental plant there are now many different forms of L. camara present throughout the world.
Flowers come in many different colours including red, yellow, white, pink and orange which differ depending on location, age and maturity. After pollination occurs the colour of the flowers change (typically from yellow to red/pink/orange), this is believed to be a signal to pollinators that the pre-change colour contains a reward as well as being sexually viable, thus increasing pollination efficiency.
Leaves opposite, simple, lanceolate-ovate, cordate or ovate-oblong, 3-9 x 1.5-6 cm across, base attenuate, cuneate or rounded, margin serrate or crenate, apex acuminate, coarse chartaceous and dark green on the dorsal side, densely resinous-punctate and sparsely pubescent on veins beneath, lateral veins 4-6 on either side of the midrib, Petiole about 0.5-3.5 cm long with inconspicuous prickles, exstipulate. Inflorescence cylindric spike or subumbellate, axillary 1 x 1-1.5 cm, Peduncle slender 3-7 cm long with inconspicuous prickles, bracts oblong or lanceolate, ciliate along the margins, pubescent outside Leaves decussate-opposite or ternate, simple, petiolate, margin dentate or serrate. Inflorescence cylindric spike or head, usually axillary, pedunculate, bracts conspicuous. The leaves are egg-shaped, simple, arranged oppositely on the stem and have a strong odour when crushed. The leaves are 2-5 in long by 1-2 in wide with rounded tooth edges and a textured surface. Stems and leaves are covered with rough hairs and emit an unpleasant aroma when crushed. Branches 4 angular.
The fruit of L. camara is berry-like and turns a deep purple colour when mature. Both vegetative (asexual) and seed reproduction occur. Up to 12,000 fruits can be produced by each plant which are then eaten by birds and other animals which can spread the seeds over large distances, facilitating the spread of L. camara. Fruit drupaceous with 2 seeded pyrenes.
“Wild lantanas” are plants of the unrelated genus Abronia, usually called “sand-verbenas“.
Lantana species flowers are bisexual, i.e., with functional male (androecium) and female (gynoecium), including stamens, carpels and ovary. Pollination is entomophilous i.e., by insects. Flowering/Fruiting: Almost throughout the year.
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. Some species are invasive, and are considered to be noxious weeds, such as in South Asia, Southern Africa and Australia. In the United States, lantanas are naturalized in the southeast, especially coastal regions of the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, and the Gulf Coast. The native range of L. camara is Central and South America, however it has become naturalised in around 60 tropical and sub-tropical countries worldwide. It is found frequently in East and South Africa where it occurs at altitudes below 2000m and often invades previously disturbed areas such as logged forests and areas cleared for agriculture.
As well as Africa, it has also colonised areas of Southern Europe such as Spain and Portugal, the Middle East, India, Tropical Asia, Australia, New Zealand, USA as well as many Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Ocean Islands.It has also become a significant weed in Sri Lanka after escaping from the Royal Botanic gardens of Sri Lanka in 1926.
It was introduced into the Philippines from Hawaii as part of an exchange program between the United States and the Philippines, however it managed to escape and has become naturalised in the islands.
The extent of L. camara distribution is still increasing, shown by the fact that it has invaded many islands on which it was not present in 1974 (including Galapagos Islands, Saipan and the Solomon Islands). There is also evidence that L. camara is still increasing its range in areas where it has been established for many years such as East Africa, Australia and New Zealand. The ability of L. camara to rapidly colonise areas of land which have been disturbed has allowed it to proliferate in countries where activities such as logging, clearance for agriculture and forest fires are common. Whereas in countries with large areas of intact primary forest, the distribution of L. camara has been limited.
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.
As a positive aspect, 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) and Lycaenidae (e.g. the aforementioned Lantana Scrub-hairstreak), 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.
Some weaverbirds, e.g. 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.
Uses: L. camara stalks have been used in the construction of furniture such as chairs and tables, however, the main uses have historically been medicinal and ornamental.
L. camara also attracts butterflies and birds and so is frequently used in Florida’s butterfly gardens.
Studies conducted in India have found that Lantana leaves can display antimicrobial, fungicidal and insecticidal properties. L. camara has also been used in traditional herbal medicines for treating a variety of ailments, including cancer, skin itches, leprosey, rabies, chicken pox, measles, asthma and ulcers.
There are also some scientific studies which have shown beneficial effects of L .camara, such as one by R. Satish which found that an extract from the plant reduced ulcer development in rats. Extracts from the plant have also been used to treat respiratory infections in Brazil.
Current advancement in drug discovery technology and search for novel chemical diversity have intensified the efforts for exploring lead from “Ayurveda” the traditional system of medicine in India. Lantana camara, Family: Verbenaceae has been important coniferous plant in ayurvedic and indigenous medicinal systems. The Clinical trials and animal research support the use of Lantana camara for anti-spasmodic, carminative, anti-tumour, anti-inflammatory, anti-malarial, anti-ulcer genic, treatment of emotional stress and trauma, anti-microbial, insecticidal, fungicidal, asthma. Major biochemical constituents of Lantana camara were identified as alkaloids/flavonoids, saponins/tannins, germacrene-A, B and D, triterpenes like lantadenes-A, B, C, D, valencene (principle constituent) and γ-gurjunene, verbascoside, martynoside.This paper includes the evidence-basedoverview of pharmacological and phytochemical properties of the aerial parts of Lantana camara.
The spread of lantana is aided by the characteristic of their leaves, which are somewhat poisonous to most animals, while their fruit is a delicacy for many birds which distribute the seeds. Birds like the Yellow-fronted White-eye of Vanuatu, the Superb Fairy-wren in Australia, the Scaly-breasted Munia, or the Mauritius Bulbul in the Mascarenes thus unwittingly contribute to the degradation of their home ecosystem.
Lantana species, especially L. camara, contain pentacyclic triterpenoids that cause hepatotoxicity and photosensitivity when ingested by grazing animals such as sheep, goats, bovines, and horses. This has led to widespread livestock loss in the United States, South Africa, India, Mexico, and Australia.
Although lantanas are generally hardy and, being somewhat toxic, are 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 though like many fruit 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 claims by others that ripe berries are not poisonous.
Extracts of Lantana camara may be used for protection of cabbage against the aphid Lipaphis erysimi.
L. camara is known to be toxic to livestock such as cattle, sheep, horses, dogs and goats. The active substances causing toxicity in grazing animals is pentacyclic triterpenoids which results in liver damage and photosensitivy. L. camara also excretes chemicals (allelopathy) which reduce the growth of surrounding plants by inhibiting germination and root elongation.
The toxicity of L. camara to humans is undetermined, with several studies suggesting that ingesting berries can be toxic to humans, such as a study by O P Sharma which states “Green unripe fruits of the plant are toxic to humans”. However other studies have found evidence which suggests that ingesion of L. camara fruit poses no risk to humans and are infact edible when ripe.