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Frequently (and not so frequently) Asked Questions

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BRIEF: How dangerous are lantana berries?


QUESTION:
I live in Southern California and have a lantana plant in my yard that can be reached through our fence. How dangerous are lantana berries? If a grammar school aged child ate some of them, could it do harm?

ANSWER:

Lantana camara has many varieties, some toxic, others less so. The toxic varieties cause liver damage to livestock that eat enough of the leaves, which can lead to photosensitization - skin damage where the sun hits it. In humans, it can cause lethargy, weakness, irritation of the gut and colapse of the circulatory system. I am not sure how toxic the berries are relative to the leaves. When I lived in Africa, the local elementary school kids used to come over and eat all the berries off of a long lantana hedge we had, despite our warnings that it was probably poison. Nothing ever happened to them, as far as I know. I would need to study this much deeper before giving you a more definitive answer. Until then, I would not pull out your lantana. I would also stop anyone you saw eating the berries and suggest that there are safer snacks.