Lantana camara - Invasive alien species

News Excerpt:

A decade-long initiative in Madhya Pradesh to reclaim land overrun by lantana helps residents restart agriculture and restore native biodiversity.

About Lantana camara:

  • It is a low erect or subscandent, vigorous shrub.
  • It grows to 1.2-2.4 metres (or even more); its root system is very strong, and it gives out a new flush of shoots even after repeated cuttings.
    • The plants can grow individually in clumps or dense thickets, crowding out more desirable species.
  • Lantana is not native to India. It was introduced in the country as an ornamental plant by the British in the 1800s and has since spread over 574,186 sq km, covering 50% of the country’s “natural areas”, according to an October 2023 study in the Journal of Applied Ecology.
  • It is a significant weed of which there are around 650 varieties in over 60 countries.
  • It is established and expanding in many regions of the world, often as a result of the clearing of forests for timber or agriculture.
  • It impacts severely on agriculture as well as on natural ecosystems.

Concerns posed by Lantana camara:

  • If the roots are not extracted properly, the shrub can start growing again.
  • Its seeds are so light that they can be easily dispersed by the wind.
  • In disturbed native forests, it can become the dominant understorey species, disrupting succession and decreasing biodiversity.
    • At some sites, infestations have been so persistent that they have completely stalled rainforest regeneration for decades.
  • Its allelopathic [chemicals released to discourage the growth of native plants] qualities can reduce the vigour of nearby plant species and reduce productivity in orchards.


Keeping lantana at bay requires consistent management. Villages have set up committees in U.P and M.P, they impose fines and work for reclamation of land. The management of lantana could be included in works taken up under MGNREGS and the gram panchayat. Additionaly, promoting commercial use of the shrub will help boost efforts to curb the invasive shrub. For instance - some 5,000 tribal people across Madhya Pradesh are using lantana to make furniture.

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