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Lantana Camara - An Invasive Alien Species And A Silent Killer

I am writing about this plant species in Hub pages since it is a great platform,moreover this article will create awareness among the people

Lantana Camara

lantana-camara-an-invasive-alien-species-and-a-silent-killer

Introduction:

Lantana Camara, locally known as Lantana, is a plant familiar to the people of Meghalaya. However, researchers have proven that the plant is an invasive alien species, not only to the State but also to India's entire length and breadth.

Lantana Camara originally is a shrub in the teak family having its origin in Central and South America. Later this shrub was introduced in India as a garden ornamental, where its flowers beautify the garden. The early records of the introduction of Lantana in India date back to 1809 when brought to the Calcutta Botanical Garden. Over time, this shrub spread like wildfire throughout the country with help from the seed-dispersing migratory birds, which feed on their seeds.

lantana-camara-an-invasive-alien-species-and-a-silent-killer

By the early 20th Century, researchers have observed that Lantana is not a friend but a foe to the native forest and plant species. Research has indicated that Lantana suppresses the seedlings of the native trees. When old trees die, there will not be any younger crop of trees to replace them, thereby transforming the landscape from deciduous or tropical forest to a Lantana dominated shrubland.

The transformations of natural forest to a Lantana dominated shrubland have disrupted succession and decrease the biodiversity richness of the area, whereby affecting the entire ecological balance.

lantana-camara-an-invasive-alien-species-and-a-silent-killer

The flowers and fruits of the Lantana are poisonous to the livestock when consumed as these contain toxic chemicals such as Triterpene Acid, Lantadane A (Rehmannic Acid), etc. When consumed, the domesticated animals will get affected and show early symptoms loss of appetite, constipation, urination, etc.., which when not treated early, it can lead to death.

lantana-camara-an-invasive-alien-species-and-a-silent-killer

The prevalence of this shrub in many forested areas of Meghalaya has created an ecological imbalance. The arrival of Lantana in the State has triggered a phenomenon called biological invasion where many native floral species are under constant threat of being extinct.

The widespread growth of this alien shrub has disrupted the different biogeochemical cycles leading to the failure of the native floral species to germinate and grow. Such events will lead to food shortages amongst the different herbivores species. Therefore the negative impact brought by the Lantanas will eventually result in an ecological instability hampering the entire environment.

The denser woody Lantana also acts as a forest fuel. When they burn during the dry seasons, they release enormous heat and burns much longer than ordinary grasses, thus wiping out the entire floral species in its path.

lantana-camara-an-invasive-alien-species-and-a-silent-killer

Conclusion and Recommendation:

The rapid growth and unregulated check of the Lantana have reduced the biologic richness of one of India's hotspot regions, where rare endemic species thrive. However, to control this situation from escalating, various measures need to be adopted by the people and the Government to keep the native floral species of the State. Hence, some of the remedial measures which can tackle this problem are as follows:

  • Removal of the Lantana and encourage the planting of the native plant species.
  • Better monitoring on such alien species and creating mass awareness on the negative impact of the alien species on the environment and the economy as a whole to maintain ecological stability and
  • To enhance the success of biodiversity conservation efforts not only in Meghalaya but also in the entire country.

Comments

Andy T G Lyngdoh (author) from India on August 27, 2020:

This plant and its fruits affect only if livestock ( cows, goats, sheep, etc.) consume them. However, it does not affects humans

karupusolai@gmail.com on August 26, 2020:

I fully agreed that it is a weed and not useful to farmers.

In Tamil we call it as " Unni chedi".

But it is not poisonous. We used to eat the fruit since childhood and no harm.

Andy T G Lyngdoh (author) from India on August 17, 2020:

Thank you

Rajesh Kumar on August 16, 2020:

Very good work sir, this is affecting Jharkhand too.

Then a new menace is the parthenian grass. It is fast spreading and invades the grass lands for cattle.

Andy T G Lyngdoh (author) from India on August 16, 2020:

thank you

Baphyrnai on August 15, 2020:

Great work sir keep up doing what you are doing it would help others also as it helps me knowing plants that we see in our day to day life.