Pretty isn't it?
Like the dreaded cane toad it comes from Central and South America. Also like the cane toad it costs Australia millions of dollars every year, is poisonous and very hard to kill. It grows rapidly in the warm, wet climate of sub-tropical and tropical Eastern side of Australia - rather like my male staff's stomach. However unlike my male staff's stomach it is toxic to livestock. Having said that, I have no evidence whatsoever that indicates that my male staff's stomach is not toxic to livestock because as far as I know no cow or sheep has ever shown the slightest inclination to taste it, and who can blame them. His mad sister was once bitten on the belly by a zebra, but that's another story entirely.
Here in Australia the stuff climbs up into native trees and chokes them to death and it is probably one of the biggest threats to biodiversity this country faces. Birds and mammals eat the berries and then poop them out wherever, and of course this produces another delightful lantana plant. My staff have spent quite a large percentage of the fourteen years they have lived in this spot trying to rid their one hectare property of this scourge. Pretty much the only reliable method if you don't want to go to the expense of hiring a bulldozer is to pull the stuff out by it's roots, which actually isn't that hard because they are quite shallow - again like my male staff.
The trouble is that my staff's garden is very steep and slopes sharply down to a dam where a large red-bellied black snake lives and neither of my staff (who have absolutely no sense of adventure) want to slip while wrenching out lantana and end up with the snake in the water. The other problem is that lantana grows so thickly that you have to fight your way through an entire Amazon jungle of the stuff to get to the main root. It's very time consuming, not to mention sweaty work and I'm surprised that the neighbours haven't complained to my staff about the foul language that accompanies their lantana clearing projects. Mind you, if the neighbours did come around to complain they would probably regret it because it is due to their less than diligent approach to clearing their own lantana that causes my staff to have to spend so much time clearing theirs. In fact I'd go as far as saying that it is almost pointless one household clearing their lantana if their neighbours don't bother because within six months of being cleared, the place is infested again. Therefore any neighbour silly enough to knock on my staff's door to complain about profanities is likely to leave with a large sprig of lantana protruding from their bottom passage, which would be very uncomfortable indeed because along with all its other attributes it is also rather prickly. The branches of the mature plant are lined with lots of little spines, so removing the sprig from his or her bottom passage would result in as much discomfort as the initial insertion.
These little spines also inflict rather a lot of damage on my staff as they do battle with the lantana. Of course they wear thick gloves to protect their hands but their arms and often their faces look as though they've been assaulted by seven or eight irate cats after each anti-lantana operation. They troop back to the house, sweaty, exhausted and bleeding from dozens of little scratches, which although cease to bleed quite quickly, the area surrounding the scratch turns to an angry, stinging rash which can last for days. Anyway, you get my drift here. Lantana is very unpleasant stuff and would have been better off left in Central and South America. It even burns with an extra hot flame, making Australia's all too common and very damaging bush fires even more dangerous, but the worst thing is of course that guinea pigs can't eat it.
The stuff even gets my male staff into all kinds of trouble whenever he visits England. This is due to his unfortunate habit of ripping decorative lantana plants from their pots whenever he sees them in garden centres or nurseries. It's an instinctive reaction to the stuff whenever and wherever he sees it. It's as though he just can't help himself. "Ah-ha!" He thinks to himself. "There's some lantana. I'll rip that out now before it spreads." He grabs the plant gingerly, because of the little spines. Then a quick yank and it's out of the pot and deposited on the ground. As a consequence he's always having to deal with tetchy, green-wellied nursery owners.
"Oi!" They yell as they stomp after him. "What do you think you're doing?"
"I'm doing you a huge favour mate, that's what." Says my male staff. "Did you know you had seventy two pots with lantana in."
"Yes of course I knew." Says Mr Green Wellies. "They're nine pounds ninety-nine a pot." He rummages around in his pocket for a moment and male staff can see he's so angry that he thinks he's going to produce a Glock pistol and shoot him. Instead he produces a calculator upon which he taps away for a moment. "That's seven hundred and nineteen pounds and twenty eight pence you owe me. Or should I just call the police?" At the mention of this large sum of money my male staff snaps out of his weed destroying trance and with great sadness and even greater reluctance hands over his credit card.
"Thank you." Says Mr Green Wellies, softening a little. "Since you've now paid for all these beautiful plants, would you like to take some of them with you.?"
A few seconds later Mr Green Wellies was hobbling back to his office, his trousers around his ankles and quite a substantial lantana plant, flowering gaily sticking out jauntily between his buttocks.
Beekoz I'm like the most ellikwunt piggy in this howse Uncal Billy has arsked me to tell you that he won't be righting a blog for the necks three wheeks beekoz his mail staff is like flying to sumwear called Inglund. I spose his arms will be so tyred afta all that flapping that he won't be able to tipe. Uncal Billy says he