Quick Facts

Quick facts

  • Creeping Lantana (Lantana montevidensis) is a creeping, trailing or scrambling shrub or sub-shrub with purple, lilac or white flowers.
  • It is an aggressive and invasive weed of pastures in coastal and subcoastal Queensland and New South Wales.
  • It can replace native pasture grasses and is suspected of poising cattle.
  • At present it is not as serious as Lantana camara but has the potential to become a significant weed.
  • Control methods will be similar to those in place for Lantana camara.

What Does It Look Like?

What is it?

Creeping Lantana (Lantana montevidensis) is a creeping, trailing or scrambling shrub or sub-shrub with weak narrow stems normally 1–2 m long, sometimes to 4 m in favourable conditions. The stems and branches are normally quadrangular in cross-section when young and without prickles. The leaves are in opposite pairs on the stem, with successive pairs borne at right angles to each other. The leaves can vary in shape from ovate to oblong-ovate to narrowly ovate, about 8–35 mm long, 5–20 mm wide. They are bright green, often covered with rough coarse hairs on the upper surface and strongly aromatic due to glandular hairs. The leaf margins are bluntly toothed.

The inflorescences are in heads of about 20 flowers. The colour of the petals ranges from purple with a white throat to lilac or mauve with a white throat to white with a yellow throat.

The fruit are normally 3–6 mm long and ripen from green to purplish-black or dark violet with one or sometimes two seed in each fruit (Munir 1996).

For further information and assistance with identification of Creeping Lantana contact the herbarium in your state or territory.

Flower colour

Purple, White

Growth form (weed type/habit)


Where it currently grows? Preferred habitat

Creeping Lantana grows in diverse habitats. It is recorded growing in well drained wastelands in alluvial soil, open Eucalyptus forest in loamy soil, disturbed areas behind mangroves, open woodland, along roadsides and river banks. It is also recorded from dry sclerophyll forest, red loam, sandy loam over sandstone rocks, on rocky hill near sea and paddocks on a disturbed holding (Munir 1996). It is also recorded as growing in subhumid to semi-arid regions of the tropics and subtropics, especially on shallow stony soils (Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001).

Are there similar species?

Creeping Lantana (Lantana montevidensis) is similar to Lantana (Lantana camara) but differs in lacking thorns, has mainly purple flowers and trails along the ground, normally only growing to a height of half a metre (Navie 2004).

Why Is It A Weed?

What are its impacts?

Creeping Lantana was included in the list of 71 species that were nominated by state and territory governments for assessment as Weeds of National Significance (WONS). Following an assessment process, Creeping Lantana was not included as one of the 20 WONS. However, it remains a weed of potential national signficance.

Native ecosystems: Little information is available on its environmental impact but it is known to readily displace native vegetation (CRC 2003). During successive dry seasons, Creeping Lantana can become an aggressive weed, due to its drought tolerance and scrambling growth form, replacing native grasses which may in turn affect grazing on native pastures (Everist 1981; Schultz 1994). It is believed to have the potential to impact on ecosystems in the same way as Lantana camara (North Coast Weed Read 2004) forming dense thickets that take over native bushland and impacting on biodiversity in affected areas.

Agriculture: Creeping Lantana is toxic and suspected of poisoning cattle (Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001; CRC 2003). Creeping Lantana contains an unidentified nerve-damaging toxin, it is transferred through milk and calves from 6 weeks of age are affected if their mothers eat the plant (NSW WeedWise 2019).

How does it spread?

Creeping Lantana seeds are spread widely by fruit-eating animals and birds, water flowing across the soil surface during heavy rain and in mud sticking to hooves and footwear. It can also spread vegetatively by layering, a means of plant propagation in which a portion of an aerial stem grows roots while still attached to the parent plant and then detaches as an independent plant. (Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001).

What is its history in Australia?

Creeping Lantana was introduced into Australia as an ornamental. It was first recorded under the names Lantana sellowii and Lantana sellowiana on the catalogues of the Sydney nurserymen Guilfoyle and Shepherd in 1851 (Swarbrick 1986). The first written record of Creeping Lantana as a garden escape or weed in Queensland was made by Bailey and Tennison-Woods in 1879 (Munir 1996).

How To Manage It?

Best practice management

An integrated approach similar to the control methods used in Lantana camara is expected to also be effective for the control of Lantana montevidensis (CRC 2003).

Non-chemical control: Manual control: Where practicable, physical removal by grubbing or cultivating is an effective and low cost method of eradication.

Chemical control: In areas where this is not possible, herbicides may be a useful means of eradication. Spraying the entire plant (foliar spraying) usually kills plants that are less than 2 m high. Foliar applied sprays, are most effective when plants are actively growing. With Lantana, best results are obtained six weeks after good rains (at least 35 mm) when minimum temperatures exceed 15 ºC (CRC 2003).

Also see the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority for chemical information http://www.apvma.gov.au 

Biological control: Creeping Lantana has also been recognised as a target for biological control through a cross-jurisdictional government process. This allows activities to be undertaken to develop effective biological controls. In Australia biological control agents were first introduced in 1914; so far, 30 species have been introduced. Research into biological control is ongoing, and several agents are currently being examined for suitability of release (CRC 2003).

More information about the control of Lantana species in Australia generally is available from van Oosterhout (2004) and Land Protection Queensland (2005). For more information about effective herbicide treatment Clark et al. (2006).

Does it have a biological control agent?


When does it grow? (lifecycle/growth calendar)

Creeping Lantana seed may germinate at any time of the year provided moisture is available but most seem to germinate after the first summer storms. Growth is slow until the root-stock and main laterals are established. Growth rate increases thereafter until winter reduces or stops further development. The young plants re-shoot in spring and flowers form about November and December. Established plants remain in flower for most of the year (Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001).

Where Is It Found?

Which states and territories is it found?


What areas within states and territories is it found?

Creeping Lantana is scattered in coastal and sub-coastal regions of Queensland and New South Wales from Cairns south to the Casino region on the north coast of New South Wales. It is also scattered around the Sydney-Wollongong region as far south as Nowra. It is recorded from around Tamworth in New South Wales and Texas in Queensland. It is grown as an ornamental in some Northern Territory towns (Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001).

Where does it originate?

Creeping Lantana is native to Uruguay and southern Brazil. It is named after Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay (Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001).

National And State Weed Listings

Is it a Weed of National Significance (WONS)?


Where is it a declared weed?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the National Alert List for Environmental Weeds?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the Agricultural Sleeper List?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Names And Taxonomy

Main scientific name

Lantana montevidensis

Other scientific names (synonyms)?

  • Camara montevidensis (Spreng.) Kuntze
  • Camara sellowiana(Link & Otto) Kuntze
  • Lantana delicatissima Poit. ex Gouault
  • Lantana sellowiana Link & Otto
  • Lippia megapotamica Spreng.
  • Lippia montevidensis Spreng.

Does it have other known common name(s)?

Purple Lantana, Small Lantana, Trailing Lantana, Weeping Lantana, Polecat-geranium, Wild Verbena

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