Variety Of Lantana: Learn About Lantana Plants For The Garden
Lantana (Lanthanum) is one of the most popular medicinal herbs used worldwide. It is a member of the mint family and it has been used since ancient times for its calming effects and its ability to treat various ailments such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, fatigue, nausea, coughs etc.
Lantana is known to have many health benefits and is considered a safe herb. However, due to its high content of caffeine, it may cause some side effects such as headache, nervousness or restlessness.
The leaves are commonly used in teas and drinks for their sedative properties and they are also added into herbal medicines. They are often combined with other herbs such as valerian root, wormwood leaf or nettle leaf for their relaxing effect.
In India, lantana is widely grown for its flowers which are used as ornamental shrubs. They are also called “lanta” in Malayalam and “kalpiti” in Tamil.
These flowers grow up to 2 feet tall and produce white or pinkish-red berries that resemble miniature daisies. The berries contain a mild stimulant effect similar to coffee beans but without the unpleasant aftertaste. They are also used for medicinal purposes and are beneficial for the treatment of vomiting and lack of appetite.
Lantana Camara is a multistemmed, evergreen shrub that grows up to 8 feet high and spreads over an area of 15 feet. It has dark green leaves that are oval-shaped with undulate margins.
The stems are woody and have small thorns in pairs at the joints. The flowers are orange or reddish in color and tubular in shape. These flowers bloom throughout the year but especially during the summer and autumn months. The flowers are followed by colorful berries that remain on the shrub all year round.
Lantana is grown extensively in subtropical and tropical regions around the world. It is mainly cultivated for ornamental purposes and can be grown as a hedge or a screen due to its dense growth habit.
It is also used as a living fence and can thrive even in poor soils, dry climates and in exposed locations. It is a very adaptable plant and can even grow under harsh conditions but it needs plenty of sunlight, preferably morning sun and afternoon shade.
The stems, leaves and flowers of lantana are poisonous to humans and animals. They cause vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea, drowsiness, confusion, convulsions, decreased heart rate and even death if eaten in large quantities.
Oil extracts prepared from the leaves, flowers, stems and seeds of lantana can be mixed with linseed oil, coal tar or other oils to prepare topical treatments for skin infections, fungal infections, ringworm etc. These oils are also effective in treating conditions such as itching, dry skin, acne, oily skin etc.
The tincture prepared using lantana is used to treat symptoms such as fever, colds, cough, inflammation of the respiratory tract etc. It can also be used to treat digestive problems such as loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain etc.
The fruits and seeds of this plant have a weak laxative effect and can be dried and added to herbal teas or cold drinks to relieve constipation and indigestion. One should however not consume more than 15 grams of these seeds per day.
The fruits of the lantana plant can also be dried and consumed as a substitute to coffee.
The dried leaves are used for making herbal smoking mixtures to treat asthma and congestion of the respiratory tract.
The fresh leaves are used to prepare a poultice, which is applied externally on wounds, sores etc. to promote healing.
The fruits and seeds are also used for making a tincture, which is used internally for the treatment of worms, especially intestinal worms such as tapeworms.
In India, lantana is grown on large scale for its flowers, which are used for making garlands. These garlands are mainly supplied to the flower vendors, who in turn supply them to the local funeral parlors.
The garlands made of lantana flowers have a long shelf-life and do not wilt easily.
In Malaya and Indonesia, the wood of this shrub is used for making furniture.
Sap from the stems is used for getting rid of unwanted skin pests such as fleas, ticks, ants etc. A strong solution of this in water can be used to spray on plants to get rid of unwanted insects.
It is also effective in getting rid of leaf-eating pests such as aphids.
The wood of the shrub is tough and hard and can be used for making good quality skewers, toothpicks etc. It can also be made into fine woodwork and inlays.
In India and other Asian countries, the flower of this plant is used to make attractive yellow dyes.
The juice extracted from the flowers can be used as a hair wash to get rid of head lice.
Sap taken orally from the stems is an effective treatment for diarrhea.
An ointment made from the leaves is effective in healing wounds, bites, burns and cuts.
Wiping the affected area with a cloth that has been dipped in warm water mixed with juice from fresh lantana flowers is effective in treating rashes, itchiness and inflammations.
Applying a poultice made from the leaves is effective in relieving pain caused by bites from venomous snakes.
The plant is also used as an ingredient in tooth powders.
The flowers can be used as a laxative. It is especially effective in treating constipation in children.
The leaves can be eaten to get relief from stomach ache.
The plant can also be used to treat jaundice and other liver related problems.
Lantana is widely cultivated throughout the world in tropical and subtropical regions, both as an ornamental plant and for its medicinal value. In some countries, the plant is invasive and considered a weed.
The yellow dye extracted from the flowers of the lantana plant were used by Aztecs in Mexico in the process of making various types of crafts. They also used it to color their fabrics yellow.
The dried flowers and leaves of this plant were smoked by the Native Americans in North America as treatment for asthma, colds, headaches etc.
The flowers and leaves are packed in a pipe and smoked to help treat diarrhea and looseness of the bowels. The herb is also smoked for asthma, bronchitis, tuberculosis, pneumonia and other respiratory diseases.
It is believed that sipping smoke from a pipe that contains dried lantana flowers can prevent one from catching cold after being exposed to wet and cold weather conditions.
Sources & references used in this article:
Lantana, or red sage (Lantana camara L., [Verbenaceae]), notorious weed and popular garden flower; some cases of poisoning in Florida by JF Morton – Economic Botany, 1994 – Springer
A battle lost? Report on two centuries of invasion and management of Lantana camara L. in Australia, India and South Africa by SA Bhagwat, E Breman, T Thekaekara, TF Thornton… – PLoS …, 2012 – journals.plos.org
Selecting replacements for invasive plants to support frugivores in highly modified sites: A case study focusing on Lantana camara by CR Gosper, G Vivian‐Smith – Ecological Management & …, 2006 – Wiley Online Library
Invasive alien species as drivers in socio-ecological systems: local adaptations towards use of Lantana in Southern India by R Kannan, CM Shackleton, RU Shaanker – Environment, development and …, 2014 – Springer