Epiphytes In A Crape Myrtle, French Quarter, New Orleans

Billbergia nutans in a Crape Myrtle tree

If you were asked where is your favourite tree, and what kind of tree is it, what would you answer? This hospitable crape myrtle, growing in the garden of a purple house on Dumaine Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans, is one of my favourites. I am several thousand miles away, so can only think back fondly to the last time my sweetheart and I saw it.

Crape Myrtles are beautiful flowering trees widely grown in the Southern States of America, but are not hardy enough to withstand winter in the North of England. Their smooth, muscular bark, often has an attractive blotchy pattern, like the tree version of a giraffe’s neck.

Queen's Tears flowering in a tree, French Quarter, NO
Queen’s Tears (Billbergia nutans)

The reason I love this tree so much is because its branches cradle epiphytes: big bromeliads, including Queen’s Tears (Billbergia nutans), also called friendships plants because they are so easy to share.

Epiphyte growing on a Crape Myrtle tree

Epiphytes always seem to have a magical quality because they don’t need soil. Their small roots fasten on to trees although, in this case, wire mesh has been tacked to the tree to give them a helping hand.

Bromeliads growing in a tree, Dumaine Street, French Quarter, New Orleans

So much of this scene offers a new perspective for me. I’m used to English ivy climbing a tree, but this is something else; I assume the plants are not as heavy as they look. I don’t see many pink and purple houses. Even the idea of having fans on the outside of a house makes me smile, thinking of the rain drizzling steadily outside here in Lancashire, a week or so past midsummer.

If you were wondering about the green exterior shutters you can see at the far end of the picture, here’s a better view:

Green exterior shutters on a traditional wooden house
Green exterior shutters on a traditional wooden house

Shared for Becky’s JulySquares: Perspectives.

Wishing a happy July 4th to my American readers. It’s a weird year – I hope you’ll find a way to celebrate safely. 

58 Replies to “Epiphytes In A Crape Myrtle, French Quarter, New Orleans”

  1. I love your post! The photos are beautiful, and I adore New Orleans! I know this spot very well. We were just there in January and walked by this house more than once in our travels around the Quarter. Thank you so much for sharing this and waking up my memories of this lovely place!

  2. I am reminded of that famous line I can’t remember — something about not being in Kansas any more. It’s how I feel about these photos: I’m sure not in Indiana! Not just the epiphytes, which seem to be having such a grand time, but the colors, the architecture. These are wonderful images to stretch my brain today — thank you!

  3. Although Missouri is my home, I lived in Mississippi for several years and California for 8 months. The landscaping was AWESOME There were many HUGE Crape Myrtles that had beautiful bark. There were several growing at the mansion in Mississippi but the yard I used to cut bamboo in had the most beautiful trees. They were HUGE and the trunks were a deep mahogany and silver.. They were the biggest I had seen. Normally, I call Crape Myrtle Crap Myrtle because of their seed pods. I liked hanging pots in their branches, but the squirrels, who enjoy Crape Myrtle seeds, would sometimes jump in the pots. They are definitely a beautiful southern tree but grow here as shrubs that come up from the ground every year. I have two growing in the south flower bed I normally keep cut back but the one along the other foundation in “the other yard” is one of several my grandparents planted probably in the 1960’s. I love Epiphytes and I do have Billbergia nutans growing in pots. AWESOME FLOWERS! Thanks for sharing this great post!

    1. I’m so pleased to have brought back memories and that you have found a way to grow Crape Myrtles where you are now. I’ve seen them grown that way. I like the multi-stemmed effect it creates.

      1. Hmmm… I did not find a way to grow them. My grandparents planted them along the south side of their house then dad put two of those on the south side of of their new house. They have probably been here since the 1960’s or late 1950’s.

  4. I too love crape myrtles, although I have never seen epiphytes growing in them here in Texas. Your use of “muscular” is exactly how I’ve always described the trunks. Smooth and strong. Some people call them “floozies” because they grow well under difficult conditions–especially drought and heat. And the flowers go everywhere–that’s kind of the “floozy” part. But I love it when the blossoms fall into the swimming pool. (And *thank you* for spelling “crape” correctly. Most people spell it “crepe,” like the fabric or paper. I learned this stuff working at the Texas Ag Dept. years ago.)

  5. I love those shutters! Functional. And I like crape myrtles a lot, too. They vary greatly depending on the trim. I had no idea they provided shelter for other plants! The ones in Virginia don’t have the opportunity, I imagine, as it’s much less tropical. And you’d appreciate those porch fans if you lived there!

  6. The photo with the green shutters made me smile, it was as if you read my mind, I was looking at those shutters in the side of that photo and wondering what they were 😄

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.