November 20, 2017

Lilac of the South

James Purkey Photo | Lagerstroemia indica - Crape myrtle

James Purkey Photo | Lagerstroemia indica – Crape myrtle

It won’t grow in Maine, but Lagerstroemia indica is a sight for southern eyes. Picture 1790 Charleston, S.C., if you can. Well, neither can we. But it is there that one French botanist, André Michaux, toddled into town with a Korean-Chinese import that would become a hallmark of southern gardens. Hardy to Zone 7, crape myrtle is known for its spectacular flowers, which have a crepe-paperlike texture. The flowers are long-lasting, which is always a nice feature in the landscape. After blooming, the fruit is a source of food for a variety of birds. According to Arbor Day’s July/August 2012 newsletter, crape myrtle is planted so commonly in the United States, that it is known as the “lilac of the South.”

Submitted by James Purkey.