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Published: 2014-12-10 00:00:00

Waikato Regional Council pest plant staff are asking residents to be on the lookout for the pest plant lantana which can be particularly prevalent on the Coromandel Peninsula.

Lantana is being taken so seriously that it has recently been classified as an eradication species which means it is the council’s responsibility to control.

“We’d really like the public’s help in identifying where this plant is so we can get in and deal to it quickly,” said biosecurity officer Benson Lockhart.

“If it gets out of control, lantana can totally smother and replace other species, forming dense thickets causing loss of habitat. It actually excretes toxins into surrounding soil which suppress other plants.”

The plant is also poisonous to livestock and rated as one of the worst invasive weeds worldwide.

Lantana is an evergreen shrub, native to tropical America, and was brought to New Zealand as an ornamental shrub because of its attractive flower.

“It looks nice but it can be nasty,” said Benson.

“So it would be great if people can let us know wherever they see it.”

Anyone seeing lantana is asked to contact Benson on 0800 246 732.