Ebony Glow Crape Myrtle
Lagerstroemia indica 'Ebony Glow'
Ebony Glow Crape Myrtle is an exciting new Crape Myrtle hybrid that has the darkest black leaves anyone has seen on any Crape Myrtle, or any other shrub or tree for that matter!
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Ebony Glow Crape Myrtle blooms in early summer with blush-pink to white flowers. It forms a small tree, with a dense, full shape. The foliage is a true black that contrasts well with the white flowers. It will bloom again in late summer if the first flush of flowers are deadheaded. It has excellent resistance to leaf spot and powdery mildew and is perfect to add a shot of summer color in a foundation planting or as an informal hedge. The Crape Myrtle was introduced to the US over 150 years ago from China, Japan and Southeast Asia. Each cluster within the Ebony Glow Crape Myrtle has hundreds of pure white flowers and each cluster can range from 8” to 16” long. The Ebony Glow Crape Myrtle has a broad and upright growing habit with small alternate leaves that are rounded at the base and are 1” to 2” long. The Crape Myrtle Ebony Glow has leaves that are truly black. Ebony Glow Crape Myrtle is adaptable to a wide range of soil types, very drought tolerant and has a good resistance to powdery mildew. Although crape myrtles are a staple in the Southeast United States, plants such as Ebony Glow Crape Myrtle are becoming increasingly common in the Northern areas such as St. Louis, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, and on Long Island. The eye-catching trees continue to enhance landscapes allowing gardeners everywhere to relish in their pure beauty. Ebony Glow Crape Myrtle is an exciting new Crape Myrtle hybrid that has the darkest black leaves anyone has seen on any Crape Myrtle, or any other shrub or tree for that matter! During summer and into fall, Ebony Glow Crape Myrtle is covered with White flowers that contrast stunningly with the intense truly black leaves, which do not bleach out even in the hottest of summer sun. Ebony Glow Crape Myrtle is a mid-size Crape Myrtle with a relatively fast rate of growth to 10 to 12 feet in height with a spread of about 6 to 8 feet - the perfect small sized flowering tree for today's smaller gardens!
History and introduction of Crape Myrtle:
In the mid-1960s, the National Arboretum embarked on a crape myrtle breeding program that continues today, forty-five years later. It was begun by the late Donald Egolf, a research horticulturist whose goal was to produce disease-resistant, cold-hardy crape myrtles. In the first five years, he focused on breeding and selecting pure Lagerstroemia indica for these traits. The result was the release of six cultivars in 1967 and 1970, each named for a Native American tribe, chosen to impart a distinctly American designation to introductions from this program. Several of these selections are still widely grown today, including ‘Catawba’, ‘Cherokee’, and ‘Seminole’. Though an improvement over cultivars then available, they were to be followed by a much more important milestone in breeding and development. In 1956, a long-forgotten species of crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia fauriei) was rediscovered on the small Japanese island of Yakushima. Botanists found only one specimen on the island. Seeds collected from that tree were sent back to the United States and dispersed to arboretums and nurseries. The resulting seedling trees proved to be immune to powdery mildew, a disease that often afflicted L. indica and that the USNA breeding project had sought to eradicate. This purely white-flowered tree was less showy in bloom than L. indica, but it bore dramatic cinnamon and burgundy exfoliating bark. Egolf began hybridizing Lagerstroemia indica with the seedlings of L. fauriei. He hoped to impart disease resistance and handsome bark to the hybrid offspring, which were assigned the name L. xfauriei. What he achieved was a lasting legacy of spectacular and popular cultivars. Disease resistance, beautiful bark, and enhanced cold hardiness were imparted to these hybrids, just as Egolf had planned. Following the release of the first hybrid selections (‘Muskogee’ and ‘Natchez’) in 1978, twenty-one hybrid cultivars would be selected, named, and introduced over the next twenty-five years. Each was thoroughly tested for disease resistance, length of bloom, and cold hardiness in Washington, DC (USDA zone 7a). Later, a third cold-hardy species was added to the hybrid program: Lagerstroemia limii, a lavender-flowered species occasionally grown in western Oregon. Its large furry leaves and rough bark distinguished it from L. indica and L. fauriei. In 2003, the first two triple hybrids were released, fulfilling a long-sought goal: the introduction of truly red-flowered hybrid crape myrtles (‘Arapaho’ and ‘Cheyenne’) with disease resistance. This National Arboretum breeding program continues to use names of Native American tribes, though not all of the introductions so named are hybrids; the first six cultivars were purely Lagerstroemia indica. Lagerstroemia indica, commonly known as crape myrtle, is an upright, wide-spreading, multi-stemmed, deciduous shrub or small tree in the loosestrife family. It typically grows to 15-25’ tall. It is native from the Himalayas through southern China, southeast Asia and Japan, but has naturalized in the U.S. from Virginia to Arkansas south to Texas and Florida. An additional common name is Lilac of the South in reference to its popularity in southern gardens (USDA Zones 7-9). Key ornamental features include long bloom period, exfoliating bark and superb fall color. Terminal, crepe-papery inflorescences (to 6-18” long) of showy flowers with crimped petals bloom in summer (sometimes to frost) on upright branches. In the wild, flowers are typically rose to red. Cultivated varieties have expanded the flower color range to include white, pink, mauve, lavender and purple. Alternate to sub-opposite, thick and leathery, privet-like, elliptic to oblong leaves (to 3" long) emerge light green often with a tinge of red, mature to dark green by summer and finally turn attractive shades of yellow-orange-red in fall. Flowers give way to round seed capsules which often persist well into winter. Smooth pale pinkish-gray bark on mature branches exfoliates with age. In the St. Louis area where winter injury can be a problem, plants will typically grow to 6-10’ tall. In the deep South, plants will grow much taller if not pruned back. Straight species plants are not sold in commerce. A multitude of named cultivars from dwarf to tree size have been introduced over the years, many of which are hybrids between L. indica and L. faueri. Genus name honors Magnus von Lagerstroem (1691-1759), Swedish botanist, Director of the Swedish East Indies Company and friend of Linnaeus. Specific epithet means of the Indies in reference to native territory. Common name is in reference to the crepe-papery inflorescences and the myrtle-like (Myrtus communis) features of the bark and foliage.