Crape Myrtle or Crepe Myrtle: What’s the Difference?

Crape myrtles, also known as crepe myrtles, are deciduous shrubs and trees from the Lagerstroemia genus. Although the different spellings are confusing, they both refer to the same plant. In this article, we’ll explain the difference between crape myrtle and crepe myrtle.

Crape Myrtle or Crepe Myrtle: What's the Difference?

What’s the Difference Between Crape Myrtle and Crepe Myrtle?

Whether you call them crape myrtles or crepe myrtles, both names refer to the same species. Crape myrtles are deciduous shrubs or small trees from the Lagerstroemia genus in the loosestrife family (Lythraceae). Lagerstroemia indica, the most widespread species, is known as the common crape myrtle.

Crape myrtle is the traditional spelling used in most of North America. However, crepe myrtle is the most common spelling in the Southern United States. Other accepted spellings include crapemyrtle and crepemyrtle.

Despite being a non-native species, crepe myrtles are strongly associated with the South. In fact, crepe myrtle is sometimes referred to as the “Lilac of the South”. Crepe myrtles are named for their papery, crepe-like flowers that bloom throughout summer and fall.

In Europe, crape myrtle appears to be the most common spelling. The Royal Horticultural Society in the United Kingdom also refers to these plants as crape myrtles. Despite their common names, crape myrtles aren’t actually related to ‘true’ myrtles from the Myrtus genus or the Myrtaceae family.

Where Do Crape Myrtles Come From?

Pink crape myrtle flowers in bloom

Crape myrtles are native to Asia, Australia, and parts of the Indian Subcontinent. These deciduous shrubs were brought to the United States in 1786 and quickly became naturalized, especially in the South. Crape myrtles are also naturalized throughout Europe.

Crape myrtles thrive in tropical or subtropical climates. As such, crape myrtles grow best in well-draining soil in USDA Zones 6 to 9. Although crape myrtles prefer warm climates, they are surprisingly cold-hardy and can tolerate winter temperatures as low as -5ºF. However, crape myrtles do require protection from cold, strong winds.

Crape Myrtle or Crepe Myrtle FAQs:

Is it Crepe Myrtle or Crape Myrtle?

Crepe myrtle and crape myrtle are both used to refer to plants from the Lagerstroemia genus. Crape myrtle is the accepted spelling across most of North America. However, crepe myrtle is the most common name in the Southern United States.

What is Another Name for Crape Myrtle?

Crape myrtles are known as crepe myrtles in the Southern United States. Other names for crape myrtles include crapemyrtle and crepemyrtle. Indian crape myrtle refers to the Lagerstroemia indica species.

Wrapping Up

Plants from the Lagerstroemia genus are known as crape myrtles throughout most of North America. However, these deciduous shrubs are called crepe myrtles in the Southern United States. Both spellings are correct and can be used interchangeably. Other spellings include crapemyrtle and crepemyrtle.

Contributing Editor | edd@petalrepublic.com | Full Bio

Edd is a budding content writer and gardener living in the United Kingdom. He has a bachelor's degree in Creative and Professional Writing and has written for several gardening publications online. He is passionate about nature and sustainability with a focus on gardening and wildlife.

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