Crape myrtle (sarusuberi)


Crape myrtle (sarusuberi)

***** Location: Japan, North America
***** Season: Mid-Summer
***** Category: Plant


This is one of my favorite trees, not only for its beautiful flowers, but for its name in Japanese, which means:
Even monkeys fall from trees! sarusuberi.

crape myrthle, crepe myrthle, pride of India. Lagerstroemia indica.
It has various names in Japanese

sarusuberi, hyakujikkoo 百日紅
shibi 紫薇
hakuyooju 怕痒樹
kusuguri no ki くすぐりの木
white for hundred days, hyakujitsu haku 百日白

Some saijiki place this plant in the late summer.

The origin of this plant is China. It flowers in pink and white, with single or double flowers (yae 八重). It was already known in the Kamakura period in Japan, where it was called
"Monkeys sliding" saru nameri 猿滑り

Since it flowers from summer to autumn for more than 100 days, one of the names is "flowering a hundred days" in pink or white.

Gabi Greve


Some plant facts from FLORIDATA:

The deciduous crape myrtle is among the longest blooming trees in existence with flowering periods lasting from 60-120 days. Crapes come in heights as short as 18 in (46 cm) and as tall as 40 ft (12 m). Leaves are alternate and smooth, but leaf size depends on variety. Flowers are borne in summer in big showy clusters and come in white and many shades of pink, purple, lavender and red. The fruits that follow are brown or black.

When mature they dry and split releasing disk shaped seeds. Depending on variety, crapes grow as large shrubs or as trees that may be either upright or spreading. Large varieties are very fast growing and can put on several feet in a single growing season. Many types have interesting bark that exfoliates in thin flakes exposing lovely cinnamon or gray inner bark. Crapes tend to produce many suckers that should be removed as they appear if you want to maintain them as trees with distinct trunks. They are enthusiastic reseeders so you may find yourself pulling up baby crapes throughout the summer.

The common name of this plant is crape myrtle not crepe myrtle.
It is called this because the flowers have crinkly petals that resemble the material called crepe (which according to Webster is a "light crinkled fabric woven of any of various fibers") but many references tell us that you're supposed to spell it crape when it's in front of myrtle. Confused? I think somebody was full of crape when they came up with this name!
At any rate, it's a common name and since there's no authority that manages common names for plants you can spell (or call it) whatever you like!



About the spelling of the word
W. J. Higginson

"Crape myrtle" is the correct, original, and in pre-1950s dictionaries the ONLY English spelling, on any side of whatever pond an English-speaker may sit. Nowdays, American dictionaries seem to be accepting "crepe myrtle" as an alternate, but still not the main, "correct" spelling. (OED and Websters also checked...)

Current garden books also list the plant under "crape myrtle" -- those from both America and Australia that I checked. "Crepe myrtle", though sometimes acknowledged as an alternate spelling, does not appear in their indices. The smaller plant dictionaries I have do not to list "crepe myrtle" at all.

I suspect that someone misspelled it "crepe myrtle", thinking of "crepe paper", and that this apparent Frenchism was taken up by others -- but that would be very strange, since the plant comes from East Asia. The OED says, definitively, that "crepe" is the French word equivalent to "crape" in English.


Worldwide use


Here, in New Zealand and also in England the spelling is 'crepe myrtle'. The E should have the French accent.
The tree was named, I believe, because of the crepe-like texture of its 'petals' (crepe being the name of a type of fabric, presumably originating in France).
One of the crepe myrtles is a native of Queensland, Australia...Lagerstromia archeriana.

Lorin Ford

... ... ...

The Crepe Myrtles Webiste


Southern USA

in the souther usa, just when the landscape dries up under the brutal heat, the crape myrtle, a woody shrub, bursts into enthusiastic bloom.

the crape myrtle, introduced the the us in 1795 by seagoing french botanist andre michaux. he settled in charleston south carolina and grew crape myrtles from seed.

the woody shrubs were a welcome addition to the southern landscape. the plant spread throughout the south in the 1800s. in the 1960s and 1970s, hybridizers worked their magic, and now the shrub is available in heights of 3 feet to 30 feet and in many colors. its white, pale to deepest pink and shades of light to dark lavendar grace the southern landscape. most are 15 feet tall.

the palest pink flowers seem to glow in shadow or low light. the pinks shout joyfully to passers-by. the lavendars evoke the lilacs so beloved in the northern regions, at least until fall when they clash with newly turning leaves!

just as they bloom, the crape myrtles shed their thin bark, which peels away in curls, revealing cinnamon colored stems. the spent blossoms fall to the ground to make way for more new blossoms.

the southern usa would be a much sadder sight if the crape myrtle were not working its magic.

susan delphine delaney

Crape myrtle, like dogwood, has become a widely spread decorative tree in Georgia. More and more roads are lined with this beautiful tree that blooms all summer with white, red, pink, and other shades of red.

air-conditioned car -
crape-myrtles divide the highway
all the way home

Zhanna P. Rader

Things found on the way


in the lee
of the crape myrtle
a magneta whirlwind

susan delphine delaney md, plano, texas


shi ni mirai areba koso shinu sarusuberi

because there is a future
in death, I will die -
crape myrtle

Uda Kiyoko 宇多喜代子


sarusuberi gokugoku mizu o nomu bakari

The red crepe myrtles -
I only gulp down
glasses of water

. Ishida Hakyo 石田波郷 .

(tr. Noriko)


炎天の 地上花あり 百日紅
enten no chijoo hana ari sarusuberi

unter the scorching sky
on the ground these flowers -
crape myrtle

Takahama Kyoshi
(Tr. Gabi Greve)

Look at this page for more photos of the tree.

百日紅 写真集 1(写真7枚)
百日紅 写真集 2(写真6枚)
百日紅 写真集 3(写真5枚)


in the temple garden -
no monkeys in sight

© All photos on this page by Gabi Greve, 2005.

Related words

***** . PLANTS - - - the Complete SAIJIKI .



Unknown said...




Gabi Greve said...

. MONKEY / India Saijiki .

Read more monkey haiku !


Gabi Greve said...

Uwajima no koma 宇和島独楽 spinning tops from Uwajima
Ehime, Shikoku
Bull fighting was popular in the area, so was fighting with spinning tops. They are therefore rather robust. Made from the polished wood of sarusuberi tree, without any decoration.

Gabi Greve said...

sarusuberi chiru yu no machi no yakushi doo

the Yakushi Hall
in a hot spring town
where crape myrtle is scattering

増田善昭 Masuda Yoshiaki
MORE about hot springs with Yakushi Nyorai

Gabi Greve said...

Yama no Kami 山の神 God of the Mountain
and its messenger, the monkey