Crape myrtle

Lagerstroemia indica (Lythraceae)


Crape myrtle is native to China, Nepal and Indochina, but is widely planted for ornament. It reaches a height of 25 feet, with one or several trunks 6 or more inches in diameter. The bark is grayish, smooth, and detaches in strips. The leaves are up to 2 inches long. Flowers are up to 1.5 inches wide and are grouped in terminal inflorescences up to 6 inches long, flowers are generally pink but vary from white to red or lavender. Fruits are capsules up to half an inch long that split in seven parts to release many small winged seeds. It flowers from late spring to late fall, fruits open from late summer to winter. The generic name honors the Swedish merchant and botanist Magnus von Lagerstroem (1696-1759). The species name erroneously suggests that it is native to India.

The photographed tree is north of the Piñero Building and is one of several specimens planted along the Laurel Avenue, from the aforementioned building to north of the Art Museum and Academic Senate Building. There are other specimens near the main entrance to the campus, in front of the Student Union and north of the Stefani Building.