tropical South America
This is a climbing perennial (lives more than 2 years) shrub which forms dense thickets. Stems are long and weak, square in cross section, prickly (spiny) with glands on young parts.
Leave are matt, mid-green, deeply veined and sometimes hairy. The lamina (an expanded portion of the leaf) is pear or oval shaped, pointed to broadly-rounded apex, rounded base, round or regular toothed margins with wrinkled and strigose (sharp appressed rigid bristly hairs) upper surface. When the leaves are crushed, a strong and distinctive odour is exuded.
Flowerheads have many smaller flowers. Each flower is tubular-shaped and have 4 spreading lobes (petals), changing colour with age. The colours would be a various combinations of white, yellow, orange, red or pink.
Fruit is a berry or drupe arranged in clusters. The fruit is green and becomes purple-black when mature.
This plant takes over huge areas usually in moist gullies, along drainage lines and around wetlands. It can be found scrambling high into tree tops. Neither native or weed plants grow beneath it.
On the positive side it provides habitat for small birds and mammals.
The best way to remove this plant is to cut a tunnel through to its roots then either pull the roots out of the soil or, if too large, cut off at the base and apply glyphosate to the cut surface. Be sure to suspend the cut stem and roots away from the ground, if they are allowed to make contact with the ground they will regrow.
View You Tube video: http://youtu.be/PRxSNY0ajG8
Other plants easily confused with this plant
Lantana camara is an erect tall shrub up to 3m high with many different coloured flowers. Lantana montevidensis is a low (less than 0.3m high) creeping plant and has purple flowers for most of the year.
Sources & References
"Weeds - an illustrated botanical guide to weeds of Australia" by B. A. Auld and R. W. Medd
"Gardener's Companion to Weeds" by Suzanne Ermert and Leigh Clapp
"Plantnet FloraOnline" (2005) http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/
Prepared by Justin KY Chu, July 2005
Checked and updated by IEWF, March 2006