Crepe myrtle: pretty flowers, but there's a twist
SO MANY things which are attractive turn out to be dangerous. This applies to plants as well as to people.
The crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica), presently attractively flowering, is one such.
It thrives in the heat of Australia's summer and flowers in a mixture of colours from white through to dark red.
The petals are ruffled with a crepe-like texture.
In autumn its leaves turn orange, red or yellow before falling. Then in the dormant winter months when flowers and leaves have disappeared, interest centres on its exfoliating bark, mottled and smooth, bold, gnarled and twisted.
The crepe myrtle is small for a street tree, ranging in size from four to six metres. This limits the shade it offers in the summer heat to which we are prone.
Originating in Eastern Asia, this tree can be found in areas including parts of China, Korea and Japan.
Named by the famous botanist and forefather of botanical nomenclature, Carl Linnaeus, crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) was given to him by the merchant Magnus von Lagerstrom in the 1700s. In Grafton these trees can be found in Fry, Milton, Bromley, Bent Sts and other locations.
However, like many species introduced for their pretty flowers or their hardiness in our tough conditions, the crepe myrtle is now considered an environmental weed! As always, we must beware of exotic species introduced into Australia.