Lagerstroemia indica and hybrids
crape myrtle

Lythraceae (loosestrife family)
Tuscarora crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica × L. fauriei ‘Tuscarora’) blooms at summer’s end in the Inner Quad. Sairus Patel, 26 Aug 2021
‘Natchez’ cultivar of crape myrtle on south side of Old Union. Sairus Patel, 2 Jul 2019

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.

Crape myrtle leaves, opposite but somewhat staggered. John Rawlings, Aug 2005
Lagerstromia indica leaf, flower, fruit. From: Howard E. McMinn & Evelyn Maino, An Illustrated Manual of Pacific Coast Trees

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 Lathrop Library and the south side of the Knight Building, is graced by 18 (down from 22) fern podocarpus, 18 hornbeams, and a colonnade.

The cinnamon brown bark, white-flowered hybrid L. indica × L. fauriei ‘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. Several flank the front entrance to Vaden Health Center.

Galvez Way strip planting of crape myrtle. John Rawlings, 26 Sep 2005

About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005. John Rawlings subsequently added the note on ‘Natchez’. Vaden location added (Aug 2017, SP). GSB updated to Lathrop Library, fern podocarpus count updated (Dec 2018, SP).