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Invasive Species in Zambia: Lantana

Updated: May 11, 2023

Lantana camara L. is considered an invasive species in many tropical and subtropical areas across the world. Originally, it is native to Central and South America and was introduced to other parts of the world as an ornamental plant. Once introduced, it spread rapidly and is now considered a invasive weed due to its ability to out-compete native plant species thereby disrupting ecosystem functions.


Colourful red and orange lantana flowers
Colourful red and orange lantana flowers

Commonly known as "Large-flowered lantana" or "yellow sage", it is a fast-growing, woody shrub with bright yellow, orange, or red flowers that bloom continuously throughout the year and produce copious amounts of small black pea-sized berries that are eaten by birds, which spread the seeds far and wide. Young stems are protected by small spines and the leaves are seldom eaten by livestock or game. As a result, many countries list it as a prohibited or restricted invasive species, and it is illegal to propagate, sell, or distribute it in some areas.

It is important to take steps to control and remove Lantana in order to limit its spread and help preserve and protect native ecosystems. This is best done by manually removing the plant by pulling it out with the roots before it has a chance to set seed. By uprooting plants and reducing the number of seeds produced the plants will not have the chance to spread as quickly and it will promote the growth of native species. Tackling the problem of Lantana is a long-term activity but if we all take care of the plants on our own properties, we can help to reduce the damage that this invasive shrub can cause.


Find out more about Zambian indigenous plants



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