Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Lantana: Noxious weed extraordinaire.

In some parts of the world, lantana is considered attractive and desirable. In most of Australia, it is considered to be a really nasty noxious pest and is often discussed in terms that I can't use here.

A dear friend who is an IT specialist who has tried to remove it himself says "Napalm it, salt the earth and burn it again... and it will still come back..." Lantana really is that persistent on the East Coast of Australia.

Wikipedia mentions that it only grows to around 2 metres tall. Frankly, that's just not true. At a quoting inspection of a property on the north shore, it was around 4 metres tall, having climbed its way up eucalypts and having suffocated the native ground-level flora in the process. That site is now under a garden maintenance agreement and is starting to take shape after fifteen years of neglect prior to the current owner purchasing it. At a friend's acreage on the Central Coast, a similar situation has happened and it is up to six or more metres tall and destroying native vegetation faster than he can assault it. I hope to bring photos to you of these ecological disasters in a later posting.

In most local government areas in NSW, lantana is considered a noxious plant and must be removed. In some locales, removal may be enforced legally and may cause the land owner to be fined or subjected to involuntary removal at the land owner's expense.

The reason it must be removed is that it reproduces so actively that any area which is not occupied by other plants can soon be occupied by lantana. Even then, it can still take hold by blocking light to other low-level flora and eventual use of their decomposing material for its own advantage.

On one site where we only mow lawns, there was a minor lantana infestation on a neighbouring site. Within two months, seeds from the neighbour had already landed on and germinated in a remote part of our client's site - and were already more than half a metre tall! That site now has a full garden maintenance agreement - and no lantana.

Lantana spreads aggressively. Various fauna, but most often birds, tend to eat the seeds and then evacuate those somewhere else. Lantana seeds coupled with free fertiliser (i.e. bird droppings) usually causes a very viable, and exceedingly undersirable, germination.

Permaculturists have a love-hate relationship with lantana. They feel that if it has occupied an area, its leaves and other biomatter contribute to a rich natural mulch which improve the soil prior to it being reclaimed for food production purposes. As a joke (I hope) some of them consider using a 'choko bomb' (choko wrapped in damp newspaper, thrown grenade-style into a lantana infestation) as an attack against lantana - the idea being that one noxious, yet food-producing, pest will overwhelm another. Additionally, in their opinion, it provides habitat for some fauna. While this is true, lantana infestations are pervasive and ever-increasing in size, destroying native plant habitat and increasing further proliferation of itself through natural growth and seed dispersal.

Lantana does create a habitat for a variety of species. Among those anecdotally noted are funnel web spiders and ticks. Both of those species aren't desirable as they are at least dangerous and fatal at worst. I'll vouch for ticks as I have been the unhappy host to a few, more than once, on lantana eradication jobs.

Lantana is horrible and a useless consumer organism in your private garden's biosphere. We hate lantana. It doesn't smell pleasant. It doesn't do anything positive for your land. It doesn't have a pleasing aesthetic. It is an introduced pest. Let's eradicate it!

You don't need us to remove your lantana. You can do it yourself and save money.  Here's how:
  • Cut the infestation back to stumps about six inches tall. 
  • Clear the infestation completely and dispose of the cuttings off site.* 
  • Go back and cut the top inch off the stumps. Within ten seconds, paint the freshly cut stump with undiluted glyphosate (360 mg/l or stronger). If you wait longer than that, the plant's ability to self heal and sel will defeat your effort. 
  • Allow the stumps to die and cease to create new growth. 
  • In the meanwhile, determine what you would like to use your freshly cleared land for. 
  • When you're ready to re-plant, pull the stumps out and dig the roots out as much as possible. Removing the stumps earlier will cause topsoil loss and cause you to unnecessarily spend on new topsoil and composting and mulching.
  • You may need to treat again and remove new plants grown from seeds dropped in the previously infested area. Be vigilant.

Allow us to remove your lantana. Contact us via e-mail or Facebook, or request a quote.

* Off site disposal is the most desirable option. You can shred the cuttings with a mulching machine, but be sure that no seeds or flowers are included with the material, and make sure it is thoroughly composted prior to using it.

NB: If you would like to learn more about lantana's effect and hopes of eradication in Australia, you might like to visit these links:

TSRA - Best Practice for Lantana Eradication
Landline - New Hope in the Battle Against Lantana

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for commenting! We love to hear opinions of other lawn and garden fanatics.