Their common names are shrub verbenas or lantanas. The generic name originated in Late Latin, where it refers to the unrelated Viburnum lantana.
Lantana’s aromatic flower clusters (called umbels) are a mix of red, orange, yellow, or blue and white florets. Other colors exist as new varieties are being selected. The flowers typically change color as they mature, resulting in inflorescences that are two- or three-colored.
“Wild lantanas” are plants of the unrelated genus Abronia, usually called “sand-verbenas”.
The first settlers came to the area after Congress passed the Armed Occupation Act of 1842 at the end of the Seminole Wars during the Administration of PresidentJohn Tyler. The M.B. Lyman family is credited with founding the town.
Lyman arrived with his family in 1888 and within a year started several enterprises including a general store, Indian Trading Post and a post office. As postmaster, Lyman named the post office – Lantana Point – for the wild Lantana plants that grew in abundance in the area. The word Point was later dropped.
One of the other Lyman businesses was the Lantana Fish Company. In the early 1900s the gathering and marketing of oysters became the town’s leading industry. The Town of Lantana was incorporated in 1921 with 22 residents voting in the first election.
At the time of incorporation, the area of Lantana was one square mile with a population of 100 residents.
After World War II, Lantana, like the rest of South Florida experienced a tremendous building boom which continues to this day. Interstate 95, which was completed through Lantana in the mid-1970s, brought a surge of commercial development to the town.
Since 1950, the town was the home of the A. G. Holley Hospital, the last of the old state-run sanitariums for patients with tuberculosis. The facility treated about fifty patients at a time, those with the most obdurate forms of the disease. The facility was demolished in November 2014.
The event would attract thousands of visitors every night, and grew to be one of the most spectacular and celebrated holiday events in South Florida. This annual festivity ended in 1989 due to the sale of the National Enquirer following the death of founder Generoso Pope Jr. at age of 61 in October 1988.
Today, Lantana covers 2.25 square miles (5.8 km2) and boasts a year-round population of about 10,000 residents. During the winter, the population swells to around 14,000 residents.