Native to tropical and subtropical regions of Central and South America, lantana is a heavily branched shrub that can grow as compact clumps, dense thickets, and scrambling and climbing vines. It can smother native vegetation and form impenetrable stands.

Lantana covers 5 million hectares throughout most coastal and hinterland areas of Australia, from north Queensland to southern New South Wales and including the Northern Territory and Western Australia. Lantana could also spread to Victoria.

Lantana is a restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Scientific name

Lantana camara


  • Heavily branched shrub growing in clumps, thickets or vines.
  • Stems are square with small, recurved prickles.
  • Leaves are bright green, about 6cm long, with roundtoothed edges, grow opposite one another along stem.
  • Flowers vary in colour from pale cream to yellow, white, pink, orange, red, lilac and purple, about 2.5cm in diameter.
  • Fruits are glossy, rounded, fleshy, purplish-black when ripe.


  • Grows in wide variety of habitats, from exposed dry hillsides to wet, heavily shaded gullies.

Distribution in Queensland

  • Found in coastal and hinterland Queensland except Cape York.

Life cycle

  • Flowers appear throughout most of year.
  • Seed banks remain viable for at least 4 years.

Affected animals

Sheep; Cattle; Goats; Guinea pigs; Rabbits



  • Forms dense thickets that smother native vegetation.


  • Some varieties are poisonous to stock.


  • Thickets are impenetrable for animals, people and vehicles.

How it is spread

  • Spread mostly by people and fruit-eating birds.


Physical control

  • Burn regularly to reduce lantana's survival, but be aware that initial kill rates will vary. Effectiveness of burning will depend on the suitability of available fuel loads, fire intensity, temperature, relative humidity, soil moisture and season.
  • Then re-establish pasture to provide competition to inhibit lantana seed germination.
  • Fire is not recommended in areas such as rainforest and wooded or plantation areas, which are not fire-tolerant.
  • A typical fire control program could contain the following steps:
    • exclude stock to establish a pasture fuel load
    • burn (may require a permit)
    • sow improved pastures; consult your local Biosecurity Queensland officer for advice
    • continue to exclude stock until pasture has established and seeded
    • burn again in summer before rain
    • spot spray lantana regrowth when it is actively growing but less than 50cm tall.

Mechanical control

  • Stick raking or ploughing can be effective in removing standing plants. However, regrowth from stumps and/or increased seedling germination in disturbed soil is common and the site will require follow-up treatment.
  • Grubbing of small infestations (for example, along fence lines) can be a useful and effective way to remove plants, but is time-consuming.
  • Repeated slashing can also reduce lantana's vigour, exhausting its stored resources and reducing its likelihood of re-shooting.
  • Some locations (for example, very steep inclines or gullies) are not suitable for mechanical control options because of the danger of overturning machinery and soil erosion.

Herbicide control

  • Variation in results can be a result of inconsistent application methods, mix rates or seasonal variation. Red-flowered and pink-edged red-flowered lantana are often considered the most difficult to control because their leaves are often smaller and tougher. However, herbicides can kill these varieties if you follow application procedures carefully.
  • For single-stemmed lantana, basal bark spraying and cut-stump methods also give good results at any time of year (but best when the plant is actively growing). On multi-stemmed varieties, obtain best results by carefully applying herbicide to each stem.
  • When treating actively growing plants less than 2m tall, spray foliage overall to the point of run-off. Splatter gun techniques are also effective and particularly useful in hard-to-access areas. This is best done in autumn, when sap-flows draw the poison down into the root stock, but before night temperatures get too cold.
  • Remove grazing animals from spray areas during and soon after treatment. Stress can cause increased sugar levels in the leaves of lantana plants, making them more palatable.

See the Lantana fact sheet (PDF, 1.3MB) for herbicide control and application rates.

Biological control

  • Since 1914, 31 biological control agents have been introduced to Australia to try to control lantana. Seventeen have established, with several insect species causing seasonal damage, reducing the vigour and competitiveness of lantana in some areas.
  • Biosecurity Queensland research programs continue to investigate agents suitable for release in Australia.
  • Biological control alone should not be relied on to manage lantana infestations. Consider other available control techniques.
  • The 4 most important biological control agents are:
    • sap-sucking bug (Teleonemia scrupulosa)
    • leaf-mining beetle (Uroplata girardi)
    • leaf-mining beetle (Octotoma scabripennis)
    • seed-feeding fly (Ophiomyia lantanae).
  • Other agents such as Aconophora compressa (a stem-sucking bug) and Leptobyrsa decora (a sap-sucking bug) have caused some damage in specific geographic areas.

Legal requirements

  • Lantana is a restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014.
  • It must not be given away, sold, or released into the environment without a permit.
  • The Act requires everyone to take all reasonable and practical steps to minimise the risks associated with invasive plants and animals under their control. This is called a general biosecurity obligation (GBO).
  • At a local level, each local government must have a biosecurity plan that covers invasive plants and animals in its area. This plan may include actions to be taken on certain species. Some of these actions may be required under local laws. Contact your local government for more information.

More information