Reporter’s Notebook: Crape Myrtle wins summer popularity contest in Oklahoma

In the country of the former Soviet Union, Kazakhstan, my babushka (grandma) grew bushes of lilacs in her garden. When my mother and I went to visit her, we got stems of the lilacs for home décor. So, since my childhood, I love the scent of lilacs, and I occasionally paint the flowers on canvas.

I never expected to find another lilac-looking bush with bright pink or red flowers, called Crape Myrtle, when I moved to Oklahoma. Crape Myrtle’s bloom struck me with its incredible beauty. I noticed that the bush is growing in every big and small town or every yard in Oklahoma. It seems Crape Myrtle is one of the most popular decorative trees in the Sooner State.

Crape Myrtle is one of the most popular decorative trees in the Sooner State because of its beauty. Photo provided.

How did we get Crape Myrtle here? Is it an indigenous Oklahoma plant? I found out that the tree was brought to the United States from Eastern Asia or China at the end of the 18th century. First, it appeared in South Carolina, and then, it spread all over the country.

Crape Myrtle was brought to the United States from Eastern Asia or China in the end of the 18th century. Photo provided

The Crape Myrtle tree can grow up to 30 feet tall and 15 feet wide. It can add 24 inches each year. Crape Myrtle can live for 50 years. The tree prefers a lot of sun and any type of soil. The best time to plant it is early spring or late fall.

Crape Myrtle grows well on a sunny spot of downtown in Mannford, Okla. Photo provided.