Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. Those crape myrtle trees that line our streets and add summer color to manicured landscapes are abundant across the southern United States. They're also found in warm climates around the world. The popularity of crape myrtle stems from the profusion of flowers this small tree produces from early summer well into fall. Dozens of cultivated varieties produce blooms that are white, various shades of pink, and purple. Crape myrtle has been used in landscaping for over three centuries and has been in North America for more than 150 years. In the mid-1700s, the Swedish merchant Magnus von Lagerstroem sent specimens of crape myrtle to the Swedish botanist we know today as Linnaeus. Linnaeus gave the tree its scientific name, Lagerstroemia indica, honoring his friend and India, the country from which the specimen had come. But crape myrtle is not native to India, it's native to southern China and can be seen in many early Chinese paintings. In many parts of the world this tree is best known as ‘lagerstroemia’. The name 'crape myrtle' seems to be American.
'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.