Lantana camara is a perennial flowering plant found in tropical areas. It is indigenous to America and Africa, but can be now found as an exotic species in many other places of Europe, Asia and Oceania.
This plant is known for its clustered flowering form with an aromatic scent. Lantana flowers display bright tinges of yellow, red, pink and orange.
Its leaves are broad, oval and rough in surface and its fruits are berry like drupes that turn purple or black when ripened.
Lantana camara is considered an invasive weed in most areas, especially in Meghalaya, a state in the northeast part of India. It grows wildly in these parts, very visible on barren lands at low and medium altitudes and as climbers on walls or growing viciously in the gardens of homes. It seems to thrive wherever it is.
The plant is said to release a chemical called allelopathy into its surrounding that prevents germination of native flora. It forms dense thickets and spreads quickly.
“Lantana plant is considered an invasive weed. These shrubs grow wildly here; it may as well be growing in your backyard! But the true benefit of this so-called weed is what everyone’s overlooking”.
Despite its reputation as a no-good weed, the Zizira explorers have discovered that it has lots of hidden potentials. As you are aware, we at Zizira are constantly on a path of exploring the exotic and natural flora of Meghalaya and spotting things little known. The team found interesting ways of using Lantana plant.
Let's look at some of Lantana Camara's benefits and uses.
Good for landscaping: One of the benefits of Lantana Camara plant is, it makes a good choice for garden landscaping. It can be used for a border or as ground cover. It is drought and salt tolerant and can also be used for dry landscaping. It is easy to cultivate, drought resistant and lasts throughout the summer.
Aids process of cross pollination: Lantana flowers attracts a wide variety of butterflies, bees and even humming birds. They are the staple for these pollinating agents. Growing Lantana in the garden can benefit other plants in flowering as it aids the process of cross pollination.
Medicinal properties of the leaves: Lantana Camara has amazing health benefits too. According to a published medical review on medicinal properties of lantana, its leaves are used for treating malaria, chickenpox, asthma, ulcer, swelling, eczema, tumour, high blood pressure, bilious fever, sores, measles, fevers, colds and high blood pressure.
A source of essential oil:Lantana essential oil is extracted from the leaves through steam distillation method. The extract has a pale yellow colour and its aroma exhibits woody undertone and scent like that of basil. The processed and tested lantana essential oil is used externally for treating skin irritation, leprosy, and scabies. It is also an antiseptic for wounds.
Few more uses of the plant: Lantana camara can be used as an eco-friendly and durable wood polymer composite for making baskets, foot mats and pen cases. Long straight stems make a decent friction timber for starting a fire. Source
Caveat for growing or using lantana plant:
Even though Lantana Camara offers tremendous benefits, make sure you are wearing gloves while planting or plucking this plant. Wash your hands after touching them. All parts of the plant are poisonous and should not be consumed.
Here are other creative ways of using Lantana in your homes.
Using Lantana Essential Oil at Home:
Essential oil extract of lantana plant has a floral-woody fragrance and can be mixed with water and sprayed to refresh a room.
You can use it as a diffuser blend. Add a few drops of the essential oil to your liquid detergent, wash your sweaters or flannel shirts with it for a blissful scent of woodiness.
Use it as a freshener while you clean your home. This is simple - add a few drops of the essential oil in each new bag you put in your vacuum. If your vacuum has a washable filter then you can add a few drops in the filter. As you vacuum your house, it will smell amazing!
You can add it with disinfectants or water used for mopping to make your home smell fresh and natural.
Add a few drops on your furnace air filters. Let the scent diffuse throughout your homes.
Do you have any other creative ways to use the lantana plant?
Tell us in the comments below.
Zizira loves to go on epic trips to meet farmers, to explore Meghalaya and discover unique plants, spices and herbs grown in this region. We share these stories every week on our newsletter. Subscribe for our weekly stories and join us on our journey in making farmers famous.
Herbs and spices have been used and consumed for more than 2000 years now and have features such as colour, flavour and aroma. They consist of phytochemicals which are the chemicals produced by the plants through the primary or secondary source of metabolism. They play a huge role in the growth of a plant as they protect plants from pathogens. Due to this, they are also used in the preservation of foods and beverages.