(Common Lantana - Hedge Flower - Shrub/Bush Verbena)
Verbenaceae (Vervain) Family
Plant is an upright or reclining perennial; rough and hairy. Preferred habitat is sandy pine woods, roadsides, yards and ditches. Distribution is throughout the Escambia region.
Leaves are opposite on the stem; oval in shape; variable length; rough above, hairy and slightly sticky beneath, sharply toothed; few veins ending in teeth; short stalk; disagreeable odor when crushed.
Flowers are weakly two-lipped with variable color combinations; cream to yellow or pink, changing to orange or scarlet. Flowers occur in the spring and summer.
Fruit is a berry (reportedly poisonous).
Lantana is a naturalized plant having come to North America from the Gold Coast and the West Indies. It likely reached our shores circa 15th or 16th century. Urban legend suggests that it was brought with slaves on trading ships; however, most text books say it is a native of tropical America and spread by natural means. While a rich and complex culture came out of that dark period in our history we are far richer to have that culture with us today and to have acquired this verbena, regardless of how it arrived on our shores.