“Where are you from?”
October 9, 2017 6:16 PM   Subscribe

Native or Invasive "Like India, lantana as it is today in the Indian wild did not exist back in the seventeenth century. The plant has hybridized, many times. From its hybridity comes a kind of strength—the ability to thrive in a wide range of harsh environments. In Hindi there is a word corresponding to that kind of adaptability: jugaad, roughly translated as “making do.” Take the resources that you have and transform them into whatever it is you need. Improvise, adapt, and grow. In its capacity for jugaad, if nothing else, lantana is actually very Indian." [via]
posted by dhruva (13 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

I planted some lantana in my backyard. It grew wonderfully and was a lovely plant, but I tore it out after a couple years because I absolutely could not stand the awful, awful smell.
posted by gatorae at 7:30 PM on October 9 [1 favorite]

Hence the popular 60’s Bollywood song, Lantana mera, woh hai lantana mera

Seriously though, great piece. Thank you for sharing it.
posted by the cydonian at 7:35 PM on October 9 [1 favorite]

This thread is like the answer comes from beyond. I have been trying to figure out what the plant is that grows all down the main street of Old Bakersfield. It is Lantana. Fiery orange and yellow, it just tolerates Bakersfield so well, and always looks great. I love the stuff.
posted by Oyéah at 7:46 PM on October 9 [3 favorites]

it just tolerates Bakersfield so well

Well, I guess something has to...
posted by elsietheeel at 8:43 PM on October 9 [1 favorite]

I absolutely could not stand the awful, awful smell

I like it, as long as it's not too overwhelming. The purple variety is also all over the place.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:03 PM on October 9

Like tamarisk for slightly wetter climes; interesting you can use the canes for I assume rattan-like furniture.

Such tube-like flowers often require the long tongue of a lepidopteran for pollination, and if so I wonder whether it carried its moths or butterflies with it or recruited new ones wherever it found itself.

I have a book somewhere with a photo of an Egyptian pyramid shot with a large mass of prickly pear in the foreground, obviously chosen for the picturesque effect, but I wonder whether the author or editors would have picked a cactus if they'd been aware what a relative parvenu it was.
posted by jamjam at 9:17 PM on October 9

It’s butterfly pollinated; its trick is to provide very sweet nectar but in low quantities to get repeated visits.
posted by dhruva at 9:23 PM on October 9 [2 favorites]

You find it across the border in Pakistan as well, even in the toxic wasteland that is Karachi, though our climate might be too dry for it to flourish as it seems to in Bangalore. I was excited to discover as an 8-year-old that the mature berries were mildly sweet. I thought I could breed them into a whole new fruit no one had ever heard of. Alarming to read that the immature berries are poisonous.
posted by tavegyl at 10:33 PM on October 9 [2 favorites]

Lantana is a double edged evil weed in my neck of the woods where some friends and I own a property (an old dairy farm) that we are trying to return to natural health. Not only does the lantana take over every available piece of daylight - climbing the trees and stopping the lower strata plants from growing, but it provides shelter and resting space for the Bell Miner bird. This allows the Bell Miner to dominate in the forest canopy and farm their lerps
Another lerp specialist that produces a not-so-healthy outcome is the Bell Miner, which is notorious for depleting ecosystem health. With its tongue it levers lerp off leaves, usually without harming the bug beneath, which is then free to secrete another starchy cap. But because Bell Miners are so effective at repelling other birds, which might eat the psyllids, these bugs reach such high densities that trees sicken and often die. Bell Miners have been portrayed as birds that farm their food, but their farming is unsustainable.
So not only do we have lantana choking the emerging rainforest, the lerp-exuding psyllids are killing our old-growth eucalypts. Clearing the lantana is the only way of saving the old forest, and allowing the new forest to grow. We spend over $10k pa in lantana control and unfortunately, poison (or frost) is the only thing that will kill it and we don't get much frost in the sub-tropics.
posted by Thella at 10:48 PM on October 9 [4 favorites]

We had invasive lantana all through our 30 acre scrubby bushland which freaked my mother out because apparently it's poisonous to horses. Our paddock was full of all kinds of invasive flora, it's a wonder any of our horses survived. Pretty little flowers up close but I grew to hate it.
posted by h00py at 2:33 AM on October 10

I first saw it in my grandparent's house in Manila, so I've always had a fondness for it. The orange and yellow flowers are so pretty. I bought one for a backyard container but promptly killed it, so I'll have to wait for next year when the weather warms up again.
posted by PussKillian at 9:37 AM on October 10

I tore it out after a couple years because I absolutely could not stand the awful, awful smell.
Newbies to the Nimbin region will be seen to pass a non-obvious infestation of lantana and pause, sniffing, due to a similarity between lantana aroma and that of succulent heads.
posted by Thella at 3:27 AM on October 12 [1 favorite]

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