Saturday, August 20, 2011

Japanese Crape Myrtle

炎天の地上花あり百日紅    高浜虚子 (Takahama Kyoshi)

 Under the burning sun
 flower blooming on the earth
 Red Crape Myrtle aflame

Crape Myrtle like to be in full sunlight.  When I feel quite spent due to scorching sun,  I feel encouraged by its red flowers blooming vibrant against the blue sky in the long intense heat of summer.
at 馬見丘陵公園 /Umami Park, Kita-katsuragi Gun, Nara Prefecture

When Japanese think of a crape myrtle  (さるすべり), it would be mostly red or brilliant pink flowers, as It is written in Chinese Characters as 百日紅, literally means "red for one hundred days".  Large brilliant red flowers bloom over a long period from mid summer to fall, about 100 days. 


As shown by English name “Crape Myrtle”,  the flower look like “crape /crepe”, a thin crimped fabric made of cotton, silk, or wool.

pink with lavender in the back at New Public Hall, Nara Park

 Flower color of crape myrtle is not only red but also pink, lavender, and white.

Japanese Crape Myrtle tree attracts people with the foliage in autumn and stands  proudly exposing the shiny and smooth trunk in the cold of winter.   “さるすべり/sarusuberi” in Japanese literally means "monkeys slip".  Looks like even monkeys slip because of the smooth and slippery bark of the trunk. 

If you see textured bark, the bark is before shedding.  Its bark is supposed to shed/peel from the tree when reaching full maturity.  

at New Public Hall
Crape myrtle foliage is late to appear, in late spring, and shed leaves earlier than other deciduous trees.  For this reason, it is dubbed as  “怠け者の木  lazy tree” in some region.

When the tree is shaken, the cascading clusters of flowers sway as if laughing, so it is also called “笑いの木 tree of laughing” or  “くすぐりの木 tree of tickling”.  

petals on the grass
Crape myrtle had been believed to be imported from China in the Edo period (1603-1868).  However, pollens were found at the bottom of the pond of Byodo-in (Uji City, Kyoto Prefecture, 11th century) last year. They are confirmed to be the ones before the construction when a villa of an aristocratic family existed there. 

information source: here 


  1. What a pretty post... So full of colors and freshness!! Just love flowers, just the sight of them makes me happy... The bright colors make for a beautiful picture... Well captured.
    Have a fabulous weekend Stardust:)

  2. That's a beautiful flower. I can't imagine something blooming that long - we don't usually have 100 days without frost where I live!

  3. Crepe Myrtle is a lovely shrub and the flowers are beautiful. It doesn't seem to mind the heat and, year after year, it dazzles us with lovely blooms. Beautiful photos. Have a nice weekend. Mickie :)

  4. Hello Yoko, I know that Crepe Myrtle grows in the southern part of the US where it can also enjoy sunshine and a long growing season. Of course, in my mountainous state, I've not seen any crepe myrtle trees. I'm wondering if the blossoms have a scent? I like how Nara's climate encourages so many different kinds of blooms. I especially love your fourth photo which is like an impressionist watercolor. Keep cool this weekend!

  5. All of your photos are beautiful, Yoko, but the last large photo with the abundant blooms and different shades of color is my favorite. It must be very delightful to visit and view such beauty.

  6. Beautiful photos. We have them in pink red and lilac and they are a great joy in our dry summer months.

  7. Al - Well, 百日紅 literally means “red for one hundred days” and really blooms for a long time, but actually about 80 days here in Nara. I don't know how in other places.

    Barb - Good question! Actually I haven’t been so conscious of the scent of Grape Myrtle. I realize it when the light, subtle fragrance come floating on the wind.

  8. Gorgeous. Love your pics. It's great that they flower for so long. Happy Weekend Yoko.

  9. What gorgeous fiery flowers - blooming under the hot sun! Lovely shots.

  10. Hello Yoko:
    What an absolutely wonderful set of images for this post of summer. How we should love to see these trees for ourselves, not only for their magnificent, and clearly very long lasting blooms, and their vivid array of colour but also, and for us equally appealing, the texture of the bark which looks so attractive and interesting. We can so well imagine it peeling, rather in the manner of some of the Japanese acers.

    Have a very lovely weekend.

  11. Gorgeous all of your photos are beautiful!

  12. Nice pictures. Excellent exquisite framing and approaches. Magnificent series of beautiful colors, I love them all.

  13. they are very popular trees here in Texas due to our long, hot summers. i have 1 dark pink and 2 whites in my yard, but this year due to the drought, they've hardly bloomed. i hope they survive. :)

  14. Greetings, Stardust! Thanks for your nice comments on our blogs!

    We have lots of crepe myrtles here in central Florida, but they usually begin blooming in the spring and by this time, their flowers are almost gone. We love them, though, and have a variety of colors.

    Sometimes they are allowed to grow into trees which is quite a sight when they are in bloom.

  15. Oh I could learn some interesting name.
    It is great discovery that Crape myrtle has exited from the ancient in Japan.
    There must be a good herbalist.

  16. 奈良公園の百日紅、ほんとにきれいですね。可憐に繊細に、それでいて華やかに太陽の光に映えています。「サルスベリ」という名は花には少し無粋ですね。こういう命名って結構多いみたいですが。

    Thank you for sharing inspiring uplifting beautiful shots of flowers.

  17. Beautiful flowers!
    I am always very impressed on the translation of names in Chinese characters as it ends up with long and beautifully descriptive names that make you dream...

  18. Hello Yoko!
    What a pretty post! What wonderful rich color! Very pretty blooms and great photos.

  19. Ah, such a beautiful tree! And so interesting.

    I like when plants and animals have many descriptive names. I discovered that a common mole has a few names in Finnish, for example "paksumassu" = fat tummy, "lapiotassu" = spade-paw and "silkkiturkki" = silk coat :)

    Finns also say that loved child has many names. Maybe that's why we give many names to plants and critters? ^.^

  20. Beautiful flowers, I like to look at your flora, I found I was learning about these trees and flowers. They are nice pictures of all who love nature. Thank you for your comment and I wish you sunny days. Peter.

  21. A beautiful and interesting tree. I'd think it would be a good tree to have in a garden, always supplying colour or something of interest. I also imagine it would look beautiful if you could see a mass of them together, of different colours. In England, I like to see the azaleas and rhododendrons out, but they're only in bloom for a few short weeks of the year. I've never seen a crape myrtle here, even as an exotic or greenhouse plant.

  22. I took it around Ukimido.Those were fullblooming,too.
    I looked them so much but I couldn't get a shape of one flower.So difference of calyxs and petals.And after or before blooming,I'm not sure,there were something like vine. I didn't feel it lovely.
    Have a fabulous day!

  23. The flower has so many regional names! I din't know that.

  24. Here in Canada I have never seen crepe myrtle trees, I think the winters are far too cold and severe for the plant to flourish. What beautiful colors.... so bright and vibrant!

  25. To radość patrzeć na kwiaty tego drzewa przez 100dni :-).Najbardziej podobają się czerwone. Pozdrawiam serdecznie

  26. What an absolutely wonderful tree, the Crape Myrtle. I wonder if it would be hardy in the UK?

    I love your photos of it.

    I will look up the species and see if I can plant one n my garden.

    I hope you had a lovely holiday.

  27. I have found your blog from giga. It's beautyfull to see foto's from the other side of te world. Sorry for my bad english it's about more than 30 years since I learned english ad school. Thans a again for showing this beautifull photo's.
    gr. Marijke

  28. Yoko,thanks for this introduction to crepe myrtle,it's quite an amazing tree.I like the image of the pale bone like trunks with lacy foliage and flowers behind.
    Lovely photos!

    Enjoy your week,

  29. You have such beautiful flowers in Japan. I always enjoy your garden trips.

  30. It's the first time I've read your blog. It's beautiful, these photos. So exotic for me living in Poland - Europe. I'll be here more often.

  31. Merci Yoko pour le partage de tous ces beaux paysages, les photos sont superbes et pleines de poésie!à très bientôt et merci pour ta visite.
    Sur mon blog il y a un traducteur,c'est très pratique!

  32. Laughing and lazy trees sound like poetry in motion, stardust! These blooms are beautiful to the eyes and described to touch our imaginations. My favorite is the very red clusters described so well as crepe paper. Wonderful how seeds scatter and sometime sleep in ponds to bloom another day. :)

  33. I wish I could grow crepe myrtles here! They are stunning!

  34. What a poetic description of such a beautiful plant. And such delightful photos. Whenever I visit your blog, I feel like I am in another world.

  35. Hello, everyone, thank you for taking time to read and leave a comment. I’m glad you like a crape myrtle which is a popular flowering tree in late summer. When other summer plants are past their best, they bloom thriving on scorching weather. There seem to be various many varieties, so I hope you can find the one suitable to the weather of your place, if you’d like to have it in your garden.

  36. I was not in Japan durin the flowers blossom. But I really enjoy Japan.
    You can see my travel on my blog * Le Japon que j'aime*.
    Un petit coucou de Lausanne, Switzerland.

  37. heavenly shots dear Yoko ,thank you for sharing the beauty of your area


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