Lantana is a genus of about 150 species of perennial flowering plants in the verbena family, Verbenaceae. They are native to tropical regions of the Americas and Africa but exist as an introduced species in numerous areas, especially in the Australian-Pacific region. The genus includes both herbaceous plants and shrubs growing to 0.5–2 m (1.6–6.6 ft) tall. Their common names are shrub verbenas or lantanas. The generic name originated in Late Latin, where it refers to the unrelated Viburnum lantana.
Lantana's aromatic flower clusters (called umbels) are a mix of red, orange, yellow, or blue and white florets. Other colors exist as new varieties are being selected. The flowers typically change color as they mature, resulting in inflorescences that are two- or three-colored. "Wild lantanas" are plants of the unrelated genus Abronia, usually called "sand-verbenas". Some species are invasive, and are considered to be noxious weeds, such as in South Asia, Southern Africa and Australia. In the United States, lantanas are naturalized in the southeast, especially coastal regions of the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, and the Gulf Coast.
The spread of lantana is aided by the fact that their leaves are poisonous to most animals and thus avoided by herbivores, while their fruit is a delicacy for many birds, including the yellow-fronted white-eye of Vanuatu, the superb fairy-wren in Australia, the scaly-breasted munia, and the Mauritius bulbul in the Mascarenes; these distribute the seeds and thereby unwittingly contribute to the degradation of their home ecosystem.
Other Lepidoptera whose caterpillars feed on Lantana species include the common splendid ghost moth (Aenetus ligniveren), Aenetus scotti, Endoclita malabaricus, Hypercompe orsa and the setaceous Hebrew character (Xestia c-nigrum). The swamp wallaby (Wallabia bicolor) is one of the few mammals that eat Lantana leaves without apparent ill effect.
Some weaverbirds, e.g. the black-throated weaver (Ploceus benghalensis) and the streaked weaver (P. manyar), highly value Lantana flowers for decorating their nests. An ability to procure spectacular and innovative decorations a - 12 days ago