Crepe Myrtle

It’s interesting how plants have traveled literally across the globe to the point where we think they are native to our region and they’re actually from some far away destination. Such is the case of the crepe myrtle. I have always thought or perhaps just assumed that these wonderful trees are native to the southern United States. In fact, they are native to India, China, Korea and Japan. They prefer warmer climates but can tolerate freezing weather.

The name crepe myrtle comes from the frilly flower petals that are similar to crape paper. The flowers can be white, lilac, and various shades of pink to almost maroon. The darker red colors being something resulting from hybridization.

The lagerstroemia indica tree grows with several trunks and has bark that sheds annually. They often put on a spectacular fall display when the leaves change to such bright shades of gold and orange as to rival the tree when in full flower. One of our crepe myrtles might actually be more striking in the fall then they are when in bloom. After our trees bloom, we have what I call “pink snow.” Each of the 5 petals falls from the tree and floats down to the ground. The ground underneath literally becomes pink under a carpet of crepe myrtle petals.

This lovely watercolor bookplate of a crepe myrtle is from a book on the flowers of India and dates back to around 1878.

To preserve space and a bit of bandwidth, I’ve shared with you a smaller version of the crepe myrtle drawing here. To access the larger image, just click on this one.


This image is copyright free and in the public domain anywhere that extends copyrights 70 years after death or at least 120 years after publication when the original illustrator is unknown.