Lagerstroemia indica L., commonly referred to as crape myrtle or crepe flower, is an upright, wide-spreading, deciduous shrub or small tree in the loosestrife family Lythraceae. It is native to the Himalayas through southern China, Southeast Asia, and Japan (Huxley, 1992) and has been cultivated as an important flowering ornamental tree for more than 1500 years in China (Chen, 2001). Crape myrtles were introduced into North America in the late 1700s and became naturalized in the United States from Virginia to Arkansas south to Texas and Florida (Byers, 1997; Dirr, 1998; Egolf and Andrick, 1978). Currently, more than 200 named cultivars are available (Pooler, 2006a) and widely produced for different flower colors, growth forms, and exfoliating bark (Pooler, 2006b; Pooler and Dix, 1999; Pounders et al., 2013; Whitcomb, 1998, 2004, 2006). Breeding of crape myrtles has also been active in China (Cai et al., 2010), including genetic improvement of flower color, size, and fragrance (Ye et al., 2010; Zhang et al., 2008, 2010), resistance to aphids and powdery mildew (Chen et al., 2007), tolerance to chilling temperature, and extended flowering period (Wang et al., 2013). Currently, more than 120 cultivars are available in China (Huang et al., 2013; Wang et al., 2008).
Crape myrtles flower on the current year’s shoots (Huxley, 1992). After pollination, ovaries begin to expand into developing seeds and the showy flower petals senesce. In general, no new flowers will be produced on the spent shoots. To have continuous blooming, plants are pruned; a new flush develops in 4 to 5 weeks, from which additional flowers are produced. In addition to pruning, another approach for extending flowering period would be to have plants that do not produce seeds (Pooler, 2006a). Seedless plants would conserve energy to support reblooming on the spent shoots.
This report describes a selection of mutant crape myrtle plant that does not produce seed and reblooms on the same panicles, extending the flower period. A 4-year field trial showed that the characteristics of this mutant are stable, and it has been introduced as a new cultivar in the Chinese ornamental plant market.
Brickell, C.D., Alexander, C., David, J.C., Hetterscheid, W.L.A., Leslie, A.C., Malecot, V. & Jin, X. 2009 International code of nomenclature for cultivated plants. 8th Ed. International Society for Horticultural Sciences, Scripta Horticulturae 10
Byers, M.D. 1997 Crapemyrtle: A grower’s thoughts. Owl Bay Publishers, Inc., Auburn, AL
Cai, M., Meng, R., Pan, H., Zhang, Q., Gao, Y., Sun, M., Wang, X. & Wang, X. 2010 Intergeneric cross-compatibility between Lagerstroemia and Lawsonia Acta Hort. Sinica 37 637 642 [in Chinese]
Chen, J.Y. 2001 The Chinese flower species taxonomy. Chinese Forestry Publishing House, Beijing, China [in Chinese]
Chen, L., Zhao, Y., Lu, B. & Li, B. 2007 A preliminary study on common crapemyrtle powdery mildew and its hyperparasite J. Laiyang Agri. Univ. Nat. Sci. 24 14 16 [in Chinese]
Dirr, M.A. 1998 Manual of woody landscape plants. 5th Ed. Stipes Publishing, Champaign, IL
Egolf, D.R. & Andrick, A.O. 1978 The Lagerstroemia handbook/checklist. American Society of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta, Inc., Las Cruces, NM
Huxley, A. 1992 The new royal horticultural society dictionary of gardening. Macmillan Press, London, UK
Pooler, M.R. 2006a Crapemyrtle: Lagerstroemia indica. p. 439–457. In: Anderson, N.O. (ed.). Flower breeding and genetics. Springer, New York, NY
Pounders, C., Scheffler, B.E. & Rinehart, T.A. 2013 ‘Ebony Embers’, ‘Ebony Fire’, ‘Ebony Flame’, ‘Ebony Glow’, and ‘Ebony and Ivory’ dark-leaf crapemyrtles HortScience 48 1568 1570
Royal Horticultural Society 2001 RHS colour chart. 4th Ed. Royal Horticultural Society, London, UK
Wang, M., Song, P., Ren, Q. & Zhang, Q. 2008 Recent advances in Lagerstroemia indica resources and breeding Shangdong Forest. Sci. Technol. 175 66 68
Whitcomb, C.E. 1998 Crape myrtle shrub named ‘Whit I’. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. PP10297
Whitcomb, C.E. 2004 Crape myrtle plant named ‘Whit VII’. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. PP14975
Whitcomb, C.E. 2006 Crape myrtle plant named ‘Whit VIII’. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. PP16616
Ye, Y.M., Tong, J., Shi, X.P., Yuan, W. & Li, G.R. 2010 Morphological and cytological studies of diploid and colchicine-induced tetraploid lines of crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica L.) Sci. Hort. 124 95 101
Zhang, J., Wang, L., Gao, J., Shu, Q., Li, C., Yao, J., Hao, Q. & Zhang, J. 2008 Determination of anthocyanins and exploration of relationship between their composition and petal coloration in crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia hybrid) J. Interg. Plant Biol. 50 581 588
Zhang, Q., Luo, F., Liu, L. & Guo, F. 2010 In vitro induction of tetraploids in crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica L.) Plant Cell Tiss. Org. Cult. 101 41 47