Lantana is native to tropical America. It is a genus of about 150 species of flowering plants. Lantana camara was brought to Europe by Dutch explorers and spread worldwide. It is an invasive noxious plant that has chemicals, which it excretes, to reduce the growth of surrounding plants so that it can out-perform them. It is toxic to humans and livestock, causing liver damage if it is ingested.
Lantana depressa is a native of south Florida and is now an endangered species. It is a wonderful friend in the garden – low growing, fairly drought resistant, and an evergreen ground cover that never stops flowering. From time to time it can become straggly, at which point a severe pruning followed by a top dressing of compost and a little extra water will bring it back to is former beauty. It thrives at the coast, growing in open ground but it does require protection from sea breezes. Watch out for mealy bug, which seem to be drawn to it.
Lantana involucrata is native to the American tropics. It is a low growing, fairly drought resistant, evergreen shrub that never stops flowering. From time to time it can become straggly at which point a severe pruning followed by a top dressing of compost and a little water will help it. Watch out for mealy bug.
Lantana montevidensis is native to the American tropics. This is a trailing ground cover plant. It does not do as well at the coast as other Lantanas, it tends to become straggly and produces fewer flowers than Lantana depressa, even though it is grown in the same situation. Pruning helps a little and water brings it back an attractive shaped plant.
Licuala grandis is native to the Vanuatu Islands off the coast of Australia. It is an exotic palm with a solitary trunk and stunning dark-green, ruffled leaves. It is slow growing and is best in partial shade so it should not be exposed to full sun or high wind. Propagation is by seed, which can take up to 12 months to sprout.
Lodoicea maldivica, Coco de mer is native to the islands of Praslin and Curieuse in the Seychelles. This stately giant grows well at the coast in a sheltered spot away from the sea breeze and in dappled shade. It needs a small amount of water when it is very dry.
This is a long term investment! It grows very slowly into a gigantic palm reaching up to 80 feet high. It takes about 20 years to establish a trunk and then approximately another ten before it will consider giving a flower. Sadly it is dioecious needing separate male and female trees and we have only the one.
Locoicea maldivica holds three botanical records. The 1st is that is has the largest wild fruit of any plant, weighing up to 42 kilos. The 2nd is that it has the largest seed weighing in at 17. 6 kilos and the 3rd is that it is the largest female flower on any palm. If ours were to produce fruit, it would take 6 – 7 years to mature and 2 years to germinate.
The story behind the amazing Lodoicea maldivica is fascinating. To start with,the name is interesting – Lodoicea callipyge is a Greek word meaning ‘beautiful buttocks’. Early botanists believed this to be a sea-bean, the nuts being found floating on the surface of the sea. Because only the shell remained, botanists thought these seeds must have come from a plant at the bottom of the ocean. These empty shells were collected and decorated, sometimes with fine jewels and placed in private collections. In 1768 the true character and source of the nut was discovered by French ornithologist Louis Dufresne (1752- 1832).
Note: The Seychelles is a World Heritage Site, and populations of Lodoicea are found within the Praslin and Curieuse National Parks.