aliens garden indigenous

Indigenous and non-indigenous Lantanas

There is always some confusion as to which lantanas are invasive aliens and which may be safely grown in South Africa. I did some research and hope the following will help to clarify the matter.

Indigenous lantana The most commonly known of our indigenous lantanas is Lantana Rugosa, a straggly shrublet with small mauve florets. The common name, ‘Bird’s brandy’, refers to the partiality that birds have for the delightful little purple berries. The berries are edible with a slightly sweetish taste. There are only six or seven Lantanas indigenous to South Africa and Africa, none of them being really suitable for garden cultivation as they tend to be woody and do not respond well to pruning. However, it is useful to have a bush or two in a quiet corner if you are trying to attract birds to the garden.

Non-indigenous lantana – a category 1b invasive alien Living as I do in the Eastern Cape, where Lantana camera has invaded whole hillsides and hedgerows, I have become saddened by the amount of natural bush that this plant has destroyed, and it just keeps spreading. There are also hybrids (such as the yellow low growing one which is a cross between Lantana camera and Lantana montevidensis, both from South America), still being sold in some South African nurseries. The seeds of these hybrids revert back to Lantana camera, are eaten by birds and the scourge continues. The only non-indigenous lantanas that may lawfully be grown are hybrids that do not set seed, and the pure strain of Lantana montevidensis, which does not set seed in our country.

Government legislation for category 1b invaders: Invasive species requiring compulsory control as part of an invasive species control programme. Remove and destroy. This includes all seed producing species or seed producing hybrids of Lantana that are non-indigenous to South Africa.

Lorraine Solomon


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