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.