The Crape Flower

Small Flowered Crape Myrtle or simply, Crape Flower (Lagerstroemia Parviflora/लेंदीया, बोंडारा) is a  moderate-sized deciduous tree which is a very common tree both in the moist and dry deciduous forest in many parts of India. Just like Queen's Crape Myrtle, it is a beautiful tree that you can not ignore when flowering.

In April-June, the tree flowers profusely with small white flowers which are borne in 2-6 flowers clusters in leaf axils and at the end of branches. Flowers are mildly fragrant and attract loads of bees, insects and butterflies. You may also spot various birds and fly-catchers hunting on these insects when flowering is at its peak.

Fruit is oval and is surrounded by a persistent sepal-cup at base. The fruit dehisces dispersing the winged seeds. It is propagated by seeds. For seed collection, you may have to visit the tree when the fruits are mature but not dehisced; or else you may not find the seeds. 

Till now this plant is used in India for the treatment of different diseases. The Santals of Chotanagpur region of India uses the leaves of this plant for treatment of infection and chronic sores. The plant finds wide applications by the tribal women in overcoming lactation problems. Traditional folklore opined that the whole plant can be used for treatment of strangulation of intestine and syphilis. Cough, fever, asthma and bronchitis can also be effectively well controlled by this plant. Leaf decoction cures fever while extracts derived from flowers cures chronic dysentery and abdominal pain. The tree is known to possess anti-inflammatory, antipyretic & antitussive properties.

Crape Myrtle is a light demander and drought resistant species. Though the seedlings are killed by severe frosts, but older trees and coppice shoots are frost-resistant. It grows on a variety of soils, but does not thrive on waterlogged soils. It recovers well after fire. The tree coppices and pollards well, regrowing vigorously. The tree yields a useful timber called Ben-teak. A sweet flavored edible gum is obtained from the tree.

Though Crape Myrtle is rarely sighted in urban and sub-urb area, it could become a perfect garden tree in cities. First of all, it is a slow-growing tree. Plus, you can keep it small by prunning. It won’t utilize much of your residential or commercial space. The leaves are not palatable to cattle and hence are not browsed by cattle. And last but not least, it flaunts white, fragrant flowers in dense showy masses…A unique species having all-in-one qualities of an urban species. 

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