A native of Central America, Lantana has been introduced to warm regions worldwide. An early ornamental import, Lantana arrived in Hawaiʻi about 1858, by 1871 it was documented as escaping cultivation. Aided by non-native fruit-eating birds, Lantana quickly and aggressively spread far and wide throughout the state. Rangeland, especially on the dry sides of the islands, were and still are substantially degraded by Lantana. Twenty biocontrols have been released from 1902 to 1969 to eradicate this noxious weed with little to no success. Other mechanical and chemical attempts at control have helped but are mostly unsuccessful. The Division of Forestry and Wildlife of the Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources has designated this species as one of Hawaiʻi’s Most Invasive Horticultural Plants. It is a pest on all the main islands.
Description and Dispersal:
- A woody branched shrub up to 10 ft tall
- Prickly stems and serrated leaves (2.5 in long by 2 in wide) emits a strong aroma
- Flower heads are 1 inch across and are comprised of numerous brightly colored (pink, orange, yellow) smaller flowers
- Fruit resembles a blackberry and contains numerous seeds within
- Seeds are spread by fruit eating non-native birds