Prospects for the biological control of Lantana camara (Verbenaceae) in New Zealand.
Lantana camara is an environmental weed in the northern North Island of New Zealand. It is an increasingly observed problem in forest margins, coastal scrublands, dunes, plantations and island habitats, and its rapid, uncontrolled growth can create dense impenetrable thickets, suppressing vegetation and bush regeneration. Biological control options are being considered for its management. A strain of the Brazilian rust Prospodium tuberculatum was released against lantana in Australia in 2001. This rust was screened against invasive forms of the weed that occur in New Zealand and was found to be pathogenic under glasshouse conditions. A survey found no evidence that the rust occurs in New Zealand. It is concluded that P. tuberculatum is potentially a suitable agent for the biocontrol of lantana in New Zealand and further research should be carried out prior to importation of the organism.