The Crepe Myrtle is March's plant of the month.
Common Name: Crepe Myrtle
Botanical Name: Lagerstromia indica
Crepe Myrtles have been cultivated in many parts of Australia, but are most commonly grown in areas with a Mediterranean climate such as south-eastern Australia and Western Australia. There is a Native Crepe Myrtle Lagerstroemia archeriana, found in dry sclerophyll forests of far northern Australia and New Guinea with pink to mauve flowers.
This small to medium deciduous tree forms a lovely rounded vase shape, with the canopy opening widely from a narrower, often multi-stemmed trunk. It can grow up to 6-8m tall if left unpruned. In their native habit, Crepe Myrtles provide a nesting habitat for wrens and songbirds.
In late summer, the Crepe Myrtle bears trusses of very attractive ruffled crepe-like flowers, originally pink but newly bred varieties are available in variations of pinks, whites, purples and mauves. These numerous flowers attract bees. Flowers give way to 6-capsuled brown dehiscent fruits that open on maturity to release their seed.
In autumn, the small smooth-edged circular or oval-shaped leaves put on a show with a mix of yellow, orange and red tones, which can vary depending on variety.
After leaf fall the attractive bark becomes most evident, revealing pretty, mottled exfoliating bark in silver, pink and brown tones making a beautiful winter attraction. Finally, the new, small, mid-green coloured leaves appear, providing cool shade in time for the summer heat.
Originating from the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia, Lagerstroemia indica is found naturally in areas of India, China, Korea and Japan. The genus is named in honour of the Swedish naturalist Magnus von Lagerström (1691 – 1759), a friend of Linneaus and Director of the Swedish East India Company.
In Japan, Crepe Myrtle is called Sarububeri.
Where to see the Crepe Myrtle in Centennial Parklands