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Lantana is a genus of about 150 species of perennial flowering plants, native to tropical regions of the Americas, Africa and existing as an imported plant 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.
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.
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Lantana, in the Family Verbenaceae, includes more than 150 species of hairy-leaved and often prickly-stemmed shrubs and herbaceous perennials native to the tropical Americas. Most are hardy only to USDA Zone 8. All produce verbena-like flowers in stalked clusters arising from the leaf axils or at the ends of branches. Spanish colonists were interested in lantanas first for their reputed medicinal value, using them to make infusions as a tonic for the stomach or to cure snake bites. Now most interest in these plants is for their colorful blossoms that are very attractive to butterflies.
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The flowers are borne in flat-topped clusters on a long stalk. Each individual flower is small and tubular. Depending on the variety, the flowers may be white, pink, or yellow, changing to orange or red. If successfully pollinated, plants produce fleshy berry-like green fruits that become bluish black. The unripe berries are poisonous and the leaves can cause contact dermatitis or minor skin irritation in some people. (Another detrimental aspect is the leaves usually have a disagreeable odor when rubbed or crushed.) Deer and rabbits avoid feeding on lantana.
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