NZ Lifestyle Block - - Contents -

The pretty, smelly weed

Lo­ca­tion: mostly in the north­ern North Is­land

Dis­tinc­tive fea­tures: Lan­tana is na­tive to trop­i­cal Amer­ica and was a pop­u­lar gar­den or­na­men­tal in warmer re­gions when it was le­gal to sell it. It is a 3-5m high shrub with scram­bling, prickly, square stems and lots of branches. It has pun­gent-smelling, dark green leaves; some peo­ple say it smells of cit­rus, oth­ers say it’s sim­i­lar to mint or cam­phor. The leaves are crin­kled and rough, with toothed edges. It has showy, 2–3cm wide flow­er­heads, usu­ally cream, yel­low and pink, but some­times red and or­ange, year-round. It pro­duces small clus­ters of poi­sonous, green, berry-like fruits, which ripen to juicy pur­ple-black.

Why is it weedy: drought and semi-shade tol­er­ant; forms dense thick­ets; roots se­crete a toxin that pre­vents other plants grow­ing around it; seeds widely dis­persed by birds.

How to kill it

Lan­tana is very dif­fi­cult to con­trol. Her­bi­cide treat­ment is rec­om­mended over phys­i­cal re­moval, as any root frag­ments left in the ground will sucker and quickly re­in­fest the area. It re­cov­ers well af­ter fire.

1. Spray (best in Novem­ber-de­cem­ber): glyphosate (100ml/10l + pen­e­trant) or Tor­don Gold (10ml/l).

2. Cut down and paint stump (all year round): glyphosate (200ml/l).

3. Dig out, if her­bi­cides can­not be used, when plants are small. Leave on site to rot down.

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