Don't be put off by the name, it's not actually a Myrtle, that is just its common name. Lagerstromia indica (meaning of India, but also from China, Korea & Japan), is a beautiful round-headed or flat-topped small tree which has ruffled crepe-like flowers in late summer through autumn. They thrive in hot, humid climates so are perfect for Northland and are not fussy about soil, their only requirement is good drainage. You can see them flowering around Whangarei at the moment, as they have been for several weeks - there are some pale pink flowering trees in the Okara shopping centre. They also come in shades of cerise, purple and white. The bark is a prominent feature being smooth, pinkish-grey and mottled, shedding each year. Leaves also shed each winter, after a spectacular colourful display. Bare branches re-leaf early in the spring; leaves are small, smooth-edged, circular or oval-shaped, and dark green changing to yellow and orange and red
Frost-tolerant, Lagerstromias can be pruned in winter to manage size and encourage more profuse summer flowers. Growing 3-4m, they make a fabulous shade tree, often planted as a street tree and small enough for a court yard.