Lilac of India, Lagerstroemia indica

Bush of the family Lythraceae

The name "Lilac of India" is also given to Melia azedarach or Chinaberry.

Origin: south of China. The left photo shows variety Yangtse or summer Lilac which fits well in zones little sunny, north of the Loire river. It is also distinguished by crimson leaves.
Etymology: Lagerstroemia was named by Linné in honor of Magnus von Lagerstroem, manager of the Company of India, who had brought back to him the cutting from an expedition in the middle of XVIIIth century. Its name "lilac of India" derives from its flower resembling that of the lilac and of its oriental origin, in an epoch when all that came from Asia was assimilated as coming from India.
Habitat: sparsely demanding in soil, Lagerstremia prefers the loamy fields. It grows more easily in the South of France, the West and the Southwest of France.
Hardiness: zone 7. It fears strict frost (-18°C).
Height: 6 - 8 m, but most often, shrub (3-4 m).
Rate of Growth: slow.
Shape: rounded naturally; it is often pruned in bowl.
Right trunk if it is pruned. It can be driven in thick shrub, in numerous trunks.
Bark: smooth, clear, exfoliating brown on the old subjects, clearing pinkish beaches or cinnamon coloured.
Deciduous foliage. Leaves of oval form, of red colour - bronze evolving fast towards dark green shining, turning to the ochred red in autumn. From 5 to 10 cm long. They tend to curl and hollow tear when placed flat.
Flowers: in crumpled, red, fine petals, from June till October, from 2,5 to 3 cm. They are grouped in a particular form, from 20 to 25 cm long, called thyrse raised at the end of stems (a pyramidal form with an axis on which are born the peduncles of flowers). These flowers share with the Chestnut tree of India this form of regrouping. The Lilac of India needs heat to flourish. It flourishes late and less for a long time if heat (in August-September in Paris) is missing.
Fruit: capsule.
Use: it resists the urban air pollution well, supports pruning and grow slowly, what makes a choice partner for the urban development.

Houston: dwarf variety, growing shrubby in tuft. Interest: young leaves purple.
Terre chinoise: late blossoming.
Kimono: renewed blossoming, pink or white flowers. Support the cool zones.
Soir d'été, Monbazillac, Yang Tsé: they decorate every year with flowers even in zones little sunny.

Advices of maintenance:
The lagerstroemia must be pruned every year, to optimise blossoming and to improve its form. When to prune? at the end of winter, in March. What stems? the stems of the centre to improve the penetration of light, and the stems of the previous year, by respecting the same principles as for rosebushes (pruning with 3 eyes, ie the third branch).
The lagerstroemia can be attacked by the aphid of Korea and the oïdium.
The oïdium (Uncinula australiana) prevents blossoming and corrupts growth. It shows itself in form of white powder on the buds which did not open. To avoid illness, sulfur is used from the late spring to early flowering. If the disease has developed one must fight by spraying a chemically based product or myclobutanil triforine for example.

Other species, living in tropical countries:

Lagerstroemia calyculata
picture in Madagascar

Lagerstroemia floribunda
picture in Cambodia

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