From “Invaders of the Plant World” in The Plant Hunters by Carolyn Fry:
“One unwelcome side effect of the myriad transfers of plants and seeds around the world is the translocation of ‘invasive’ species. Plants arriving on foreign shores with an agreeable environment and a lack of predators have often quickly become naturalized. Those also encountering a ready pollinator or suitable means for dispersing seeds have been able to spread rapidly. In some cases, the new conditions have made the plant much more successful in its new locale than in its indigenous habitat. When a plant becomes disruptive to native flora in a particular location, it is deemed invasive….
“The brightly colored flowers of Lantana camara made it a popular garden flower in Europe when it arrived there from Central and South America. As the colonial powers expanded into the tropics it, too, became widely dispersed. Today, it is considered a problem in at least 50 countries. Since it was introduced to South Africa in 1880, it has invaded natural forests, plantations, overgrazed or burnt veld (grassland), orchards, rocky hillsides, and fields….
“It arrived on Floreana Island in the Galapagos Islands in 1938 as an ornamental. Since 1970, it has replaced Scalesia pedunculata forest and dry vegetation of Croton, Macraea, and Darwiniothamnus. Two of the three populations of Lecocarpus pinnatifidus and one of Scalesia villosa, both endemic to Floreana, the smallest island in the Galapagos, face elimination if the invader continues to advance. If Lantana reaches the crater area of Cerro Pajas, it will endanger the last remaining nesting colony of dark-rumped petrels on the Galapagos Islands. Thorny thickets of Lantana are so dense they would prevent the birds from making their nesting burrows at the breeding site.”
This is the second of three posts featuring lantana from my garden; the first post is Lantana camara ‘Mary Ann’ (1 of 3).
If you spend any time researching lantana, you’ll quickly find that in various parts of the world, it’s considered a seriously invasive species — owing in part to its rapid growth, entangling brush, and how its brush becomes woody and hard to cut as seasons progress and it spreads. The quotation above from Carolyn Fry’s The Plant Hunters above is one example, where she describes how it has impacted the Galapagos Islands flora, and it was my first encounter with a description of the plant’s potential impact on a avian species, the seabirds known as petrels.
As I’ve photographed and written about lantana each year, I’ve tried to learn a bit more about it with every post. If you’d like to peruse my other coverage of its invasiveness, its appearance in literature and film, and different ways I’ve photographed it, this tag — lantana — will take you to all my prior posts.
Thanks for taking a look!