Big-sage

Lantana camara

Umbelanterna, also known as big-sage, wild-sage, red-sage, white-sage, tickberry, and West Indian lantana is a species of flowering plant within the verbena family, Verbenaceae, that is native to the American tropics.

''Lantana camara'', often planted to embellish gardens, has spread from its native Central and South America to around 50 different countries, where it has become an invasive species. It spread from the Americas into the rest of the world when it was brought back to Europe by Dutch explorers and cultivated widely, soon spreading into Asia and Oceania, where it established itself as a notorious weed.

''Lantana camara'' will often outcompete other more desirable species, leading to a reduction in biodiversity. It can also cause problems if it invades agricultural areas as a result of its toxicity to livestock as well as its ability to form dense thickets which if left unchecked can greatly reduce the productivity of farm land.
Lantana camara  A large flowering shrub native to Central and South America that readily grows into thickets here in Australia. Introduced as an ornamental garden plant in the mid 1800s, the weed quickly escaped cultivation and was established in the wild within a few years. I have read that within this country, it is estimated to have invaded more than 4 million hectares.
Because of the suitable growing conditions here, Lantana grows so well, it excludes native species, which can lead to its complete dominance of the environment. 
It therefore holds 'weed of national significance' status here in New South Wales.  Australia,Big-sage,Fall,Geotagged,Invasive plant,Lantana camara,Macro,Verbenaceae,Weed,autumn,bloom,botany,flower,new south wales,plant

Appearance

''Lantana camara'' is a small perennial shrub which can grow to around 2 m tall and form dense thickets in a variety of environments. Due to extensive selective breeding throughout the 17th and 18th Centuries for use as an ornamental plant there are now many different ''L. camara'' cultivars.

''Lantana camara'' has small tubular shaped flowers which each have four petals and are arranged in clusters in terminal areas stems. Flowers come in many different colours including red, yellow, white, pink and orange which differ depending on location in inflorescences, age, and maturity. After pollination occurs the colour of the flowers change , 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.

The leaves are broadly ovate, opposite, and simple and have a strong odour when crushed.

The fruit of ''L. camara'' is a berry-like drupe which turns from green to dark purple when mature. Green unripe fruits are inedible to humans and animals alike. Because of dense patches of hard spikes on their rind, ingestion of them can result in serious damage to the digestive tract. Both vegetative 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''.

The flower has a tutti frutti smell with a pepper undertone.
Big-Sage/Lantana This Lantana camara are not local plants but introduced.  However, they have become very common in the country. Flower,Kuala Lumpur,Lantana camara,Malaysia,Spanish Flag

Naming

''Lantana camara'' is considered to be a weed in large areas of the Paleotropics where it has established itself. In agricultural areas or secondary forests it can become the dominant understorey shrub, crowding out other native species and reducing biodiversity. The formation of dense thickets of ''L. camara'' can significantly slow down the regeneration of forests by preventing the growth of new trees.

Although ''L. camara'' is itself quite resistant to fire, it can change fire patterns in a forest ecosystem by altering the fuel load to cause a buildup of forest fuel which increases the risk of fires spreading to the canopy. This can be particularly destructive in dry, arid areas where fire can spread quickly and lead to the loss of large areas of natural ecosystem.

''Lantana camara'' reduces the productivity in pasture through the formation of dense thickets which reduce growth of crops as well as make harvesting more difficult. There are also secondary impacts, including the finding that mosquitos which transmit malaria and tsetse flies in Africa shelter within the bushes of ''L. camara''.

Even though ''L. camara'' is considered invasive to the Western Ghats, the plant does not seem to impact biodiversity in the region, rather it tends to simply occupy the same moist regions as other species.

There are many reasons why ''L. camara'' has been so successful as an invasive species; however, the primary factors which have allowed it to establish itself are:
# Wide dispersal range made possible by birds and other animals which eat its drupes
# Less prone to being eaten by animals due to toxicity
# Tolerance of a wide range of environmental conditions
# Increase in logging and habitat modification which has been beneficial to ''L. camara'' as it prefers disturbed habitats
# Production of toxic chemicals which inhibit competing plant species
# Extremely high seed production ''Lantana camara'' has been grown specifically for use as an ornamental plant since Dutch explorers first brought it to Europe from the New World. Its ability to last for a relatively long time without water and that it does not have many pests or diseases which affect it have contributed to it becoming a common ornamental plant. ''Lantana camara'' also attracts butterflies and birds and so is frequently used in Florida's butterfly gardens.The name ''Lantana'' derives from the Latin name of the wayfaring tree ''Viburnum lantana'', the flowers of which closely resemble ''Lantana''.

''Camara'' is derived from Greek, meaning ‘arched’, ‘chambered’, or ‘vaulted’.
Round and square patterns on pink/orange flower, Amber Mountain, Madagascar Captured in a botanical garden. Africa,Amber Mountain,Geotagged,Lantana camara,Madagascar,Madagascar North,Spanish Flag,Spring,World

Distribution

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 2000 m and often invades previously disturbed areas such as logged forests and areas cleared for agriculture.

''Lantana camara'' has also colonized areas of Africa, Southern Europe, such as Spain and Portugal, the Middle East, India, tropical Asia, Australia, New Zealand, the 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 range of ''L. camara'' is still increasing, shown by the fact that it has invaded many islands on which it was not present in 1974 . 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.
Lantana camera 
 Big-sage,Geotagged,India,Lantana camara,Winter,camara

Habitat

''Lantana camara'' is found in a variety of environments, including:
⤷  Agricultural areas
⤷  Forest margins and gaps
⤷  Riparian zones
⤷  Grasslands
⤷  Secondary forest, and
⤷  Beach fronts.

''Lantana camara'' is rarely found in natural or semi-natural areas of forest as it is unable to compete with taller trees due to its lack of tolerance for shade, and instead grows at the forest edge. ''Lantana camara'' can survive in a wide range of climatic conditions, including drought, different soil types, heat, humidity and salt. It is also relatively fire tolerant and can quickly establish itself in recently burnt areas of forest.
Madagascar winter plant Despite it being winter during our stay in Madagascar, temperatures are high enough for many colorful flowers to grow and bloom all year through. We found this pink and yellow flowering plant alongside the road. Geotagged,Lantana camara,Madagascar,Tana

Defense

''Lantana camara'' is known to be toxic to livestock such as cattle, sheep, horses, dogs and goats. The active substances causing toxicity in grazing animals are pentacyclic triterpenoids which result in liver damage and photosensitivy. ''L. camara'' also excretes chemicals 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 ingestion of ''L. camara'' fruit poses no risk to humans and are in fact edible when ripe.
Flowers - Lantana camara Lanta camara is a flowering plant that is native to American tropics but widely introduced to other tropical countries. Fiji,Flower,Lantana camara,Plant,Spanish Flag

Uses

''Lantana 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.

References:

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