- Author: Kathy Thomas-Rico
The crape myrtles are blooming. Have you noticed? They’re pretty hard to miss, what with their beautiful blossoms in hot fuchsia, spicy red, pale lavender, pretty pink and clear white. These woody perennials thrive in Solano’s zones and offer year-round interest: peeling bark in winter and spring, blooms in summer, and fall leaf color.
I just stumbled across something I’d not realized about Lagerstroemia, the genus also known as crape myrtle. Not everyone spells it like that: CRAPE myrtle. Many spell it CREPE myrtle. Apparently, this is a long-running horticultural debate. Whether it’s spelled crape myrtle, crepe myrtle, crapemyrtle, crepemyrtle or crepe myrtles may simply be a geographical preference, or an evolution of language. In the U.S., the traditional Southern spelling is crepe myrtle (because the delicate flowers resemble crepe paper). Across the rest of the U.S. it is more commonly spelled crape myrtle, which is considered the French spelling. In Europe and Australia and other countries they use the scientific name, Lagerstroemia Crape Myrtle.
But I think my youngest child, Katie, has the best name for the shrubby little trees. As young as first grade, Katie noticed when Vacaville’s crape myrtles started to bloom. Knowing I love the beautiful colors, Katie would point them out: “Look, Mommy! The grape turtles are blooming!” Katie’s nearly 18 now and we still giggle when we notice summer’s explosion of crape myrtle blossoms.
Grape turtles indeed.