Red Lantana is a scrambling shrub which often forms dense thickets. Originally native to North and South America the weedy forms now infest over 4 million hectares of Australia and has a major impact on agriculture and the environment. Red flowered forms are toxic to cattle with an estimated 1,500 deaths attributed per year through liver insufficiency and kidney failure. Small thickets appear on the wildlife refuge which are hand removed.
It is a relative of the cucumber and melon and is a native to Southern Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Considered a weed in Australia, it is only occasionally naturalized so isn’t considered a major pest. A trailing herb with stems to 3 metre. Yellow fruit, ellipsoid to ovoid 40-60mm long, densely covered with soft bristles. The non-bitter fruits are eaten raw or pickled. The bitter fruits are used as a (drastic) purgative. There are some commercial prospects for this plant however, as it is resistant to powdery mildew and shares several properties with cucumber. Found growing in several places near Sportsman Creek wildlife refuge.
I.D. courtesy of Dr. Greg Clancy.