Lagerstroemia indica. CRAPE MYRTLE. China
Lagerstroemia 'Natchez'
LYTHRACEAE (Loosestrife family)

A very attractive shrub or tree with showy flowers throughout summer. The flowers form terminal clusters, have a crinkled surface like crape, and come in a variety of colors in the general neighborhood of pink. The flower cluster, with its center of bright yellow anthers, is contained within a crown of six bracts; later, when a fruit forms, this crown holds the fruit. The bundles of fruit have their own ruddy color, retain the old stigma, and, at a glance, are easily mistaken for the bundles of buds that precede the flowers. All three stages may be present at once. The thin bark peels annually, exposing a beautiful, touchworthy, satiny sheen.

Until recently it was not very common on campus, but an old specimen with multiple stems may be seen at 611 Alvarado Row. Groups were planted in 1975 on Campus Drive East where it approaches Junipero Serra Boulevard and one in the inner northeast island of the Inner Quad when the Quad was paved in 1984. A disfiguring mildew (Erysiphe lagerstromiae) needs to be controlled by copper fungicide in spring, and with lime-sulfur in winter, but mildew resistant plants have become available. Conspicuous plantings that appeared in Menlo Park on El Camino Real near Menlo Avenue were bound to attract attention. In the 1990s, bulk plantings of sizable trees began, for example on Galvez Street between Serra Street and Campus Drive, and a parking-lot row between Lagunita Eucalipto and Murray Hall (with white flowers). A row of 10 enclose Knight Plaza on the east side. This formal space, between the north end of the Graduate School of Business and the south side of the Knight Building, is graced by 22 fern podocarpus, 18 hornbeams, and a colonnade.

The cinnamon brown bark, white-flowered hybrid L. 'Natchez' was planted at the Old Union, Summer 2007, after the building's renovation and has been used extensively since then. There are ten individuals planted along Galvez on the east side of the John A. & Cynthia Fry Gunn Building (SIEPR) immediately adjacent to the sidewalk.

Illustration: McMinn, Howard E. and Evelyn Maino. 1951. An illustrated manual of Pacific coast trees; with lists of trees recommended for various uses on the Pacific coast by H. W. Shepherd. 2d ed. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press.

Illustrations (links open new windows): habit 9/26/05, Galvez Way strip planting |


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Related material: Canopy Trees for Palo Alto Tree Library

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