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Himachal Pradesh Forest Department

Invasive Alien Species

Himachal Pradesh has a total area geographical area of 55,673 Sq KM out of which 37,033 Sq KM comprising 66.52% of total geographical area of the State is recorded as forests. Out of 37,033 Sq KM, 6506 Sq Km forests are Tropical and Sub-Tropical Forest. Mainly in these forests biological invasions – one of the anthropogenically mediated ecological perturbations – are threatening native biodiversity, preventing natural ecological succession and changing the community structure and composition, besides impacting ecosystem services.

Lantana camara is perhaps one of the most important invasive alien plant species (exotic weed) in forest ecosystems of India as also in Himachal Pradesh. Commonly called as ‘ Phulnu’ or ‘Panchphulli’, Lantana camara is probably a native of South America which was introduced in India for ornamental purposes. At present, Lantana has infested open lands in tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world and is spreading like a wild fire.

Lantana weed is a perennial spreading shrub belonging to Verbenaceae family. The plant is in active vegetative growth during March to August (monsoon) and produces flowers and fruits during June to October. It is mostly dormant during November to February. The weed has strong horizontal root system spreading under the surface and moderately deep i.e. 25-30 cm in the soil. The leaves are thick and contain lantandens-A, a toxic substance for cattle. This clever plant stores its food material in roots and crown and is a exceedingly strong coppicer. Its main coppice strength lies in the ‘collar’ portion. It coppices from stem and branches. Besides, it also spreads through seeds and air layering, but does not spread through root suckers.


In Himachal Pradesh, around 2600 sq. km of area under forest cover lies in the lower elevation (upto 1000m). Out of this nearly 60% is infested with Lantana in varying extent. Infestation is rapidly spreading and has been noticed in elevations upto 1500m. The districts of Kangra, Bilaspur, Hamirpur, Solan, Sirmour, Chamba and Mandi have been heavily infested, while Shimla has been marginally affected. HP Forest Department had carried out a reconnaissance survey to map the infestation in various Divisions and Circles during January- March 2001. According to this reconnaissance survey, approximately 1563 Sq KM forest land is infested with Lantana camara. Apart from this 20 Sq Km road side and 250 Sq. Km barren land (Culturable waste and Fellow land) is also infested by Lantana camara.

Table 1

Tablular Statement depicting the extent of infestation of Lantana camara as determined from reconnaissance survey (2011)

Description of land Total (area in Ha)
Forest Land 1,50,000
Road sides 2,000
Land classified as barren; culturable wastes & fallow 25,000
Total ( Area in ha) 1,77,000

Table 2

Detailed Forest Circle-Wise incidence of infestation of invasive alien species on forest lands, as recorded during January – March 2011.

Circle-Wise Incidence of Exotic Weed Infestation in Forest Areas

(based on field data collected by field offices during January-March 2011)

Circle Forest Area under the Invasion of ….
Lantana Ageratum Parthenium Eupatorium Total
Nahan 21,456.99 4,302.51 4,260.73 595.87 30,616.10
Bilaspur 55,941.55 0.00 0.00 0.00 55,941.55
Mandi 7,900.00 2,360.00     10,260.00
Hamirpur 12,680.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 12,680.00
Dharamshala 47,403.00 12,810.00     60,213.00
Shimla 4,060.89 0.00 1,100.00 0.00 5,160.89
Rampur 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Chamba 4,631.77 132.91 68.50 85.40 4,918.58
Kullu 575.70 0.00 284.30 137.25 997.25
WL (S) 475.06 683.98 611.44 190.50 1,960.98
WL (N) 1,160.00 54.00 0.00 1,239.00 2,453.00
WL (GHNP) 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
  156,284.96 20,343.40 6,324.97 2,248.02 185,201.35

Rehabilitation of Lantana Infested Areas: