Characteristics of Lantana Tree (Lantana camara) in the Wild

Lantana camara
Lantana is a species of flowering plant from the Verbenaceae family. It is native flora from tropical regions of America. Common names that are often used to refer to this tree are Tembelekan, Tahi Ayam (Indonesia), Big-sage (Malaysia), Wild-sage, Red-sage, White-sage (Caribbean), Tickberry (South Africa), West Indian Lantana, and Umbelanterna.

As an ornamental plant, the lantana tree is often cultivated indoors, or in conservatories, but it can thrive in bare land or shrubs with adequate sunshine.

The lantana tree has spread from Central and South America to about 50 countries, where it has become an invasive species. The first time lantana spread from America was when it was brought to Europe by Dutch explorers and cultivated widely. Not long after, lantana also spread to Asia and Oceania where it became a weed because it was so easy to grow and difficult to eradicate.

In Indonesia, the ground tree grows as a wild shrub in dry areas such as empty gardens, roadsides, and even in the yards of people’s homes.

Lantana trees can cause problems when growing and reproducing in agricultural areas, due to their ability to form dense, perennial shrubs which, if left unchecked, can greatly reduce the productivity of agricultural land.

Due to extensive selective breeding throughout the 17th and 18th centuries for use as an ornamental plant, there are now many different cultivars of Lantana, especially the color of the flowers.

 

Characteristics of Lantana Leaf

Lantana camara Leaf
Source : flickr.com/John Hagstrom

The leaves of lantana are ovoid, opposite, leathery, dark green in color, downy, and have an unpleasant odor when crushed.

 

Characteristics of Lantana Flower

Lantana camara Flower
Source : flickr.com/Flowers Galore

The flowers are small tubular, each of which has four petals and is arranged in groups on the stem.

The flowers come in various colors such as purple, red, yellow, pink, white, and orange.

 

Characteristics of Lantana Fruit

Lantana camara Fruit
Source : flickr.com/julia_HalleFotoFan

Lantana fruit is a green berry-like seed which then turns dark purple to black when ripe.

The green, unripe fruit cannot be eaten by humans or animals because of the tough skin and seeds, which can cause serious damage to the digestive tract.

 

Characteristics of Lantana Tree

Lantana camara Tree
Source : flickr.com/Brithish Colombia

Lantana grows as a shrub or small tree that can reach a height of about 2-5 meters. Currently, the lantana tree has been naturalized in about 50 tropical and sub-tropical countries around the world.

The lantana tree is found in eastern and southern Africa, where it grows at an altitude below 2,000 m asl and often invades previously disturbed areas such as logged forests and open areas.

Many tropical countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka consider the lantana tree to be a weed on agricultural land.

Lantana is rarely found in wet forest areas because it cannot grow in damp soils and places where there is no sun/darkness. On the other hand, lantana grows a lot on the edges of dry forests which are exposed to the sun all day long.

Lantana trees can survive long drought climatic conditions and are resistant to saltwater.

 
BENEFITS OF LANTANA TREE:

The tree is widely cultivated as an ornamental tree in pots, home yards, and even bonsai.

Lantana tree trunks are often used in the manufacture of construction, furniture, and ornaments.

Studies conducted in India have found that lantana leaves can produce antimicrobial, fungicidal, and insecticidal properties.

Extracts from the lantana tree have been used to treat respiratory infections in Brazil.

Lantana leaves have also been used in traditional herbal medicine to treat various diseases, including cancer, skin itching, leprosy, rabies, chickenpox, measles, asthma, and ulcers.

 

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