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’m reading this post as I sit under the ceiling fan on my front porch watching the hummingbirds dart back and forth from the feeders hanging in the white Crepe Myrtles
    flanking my entry way.
    Thanks for reminding me of how lucky I am to be a southern girl in the USA!

  2. I love crepe myrtle, probably more for its bark than flowers. This one looks ancient and is a fine host tree for its bromeliad family.
    Thanks for the 4th salutations, as I write there are lots of firecrackers going off, and a few whistling Roman candles… no big firework events this year, so folks are celebrating at home without the usual big BBQ parties. Overall, it is pretty sad and subdued, understandably.

    1. It does look like an old one – its bark is sagging in places which I’ve not often seen on a tree. I’m sorry the celebrations were a bit more subdued than normal, but happy if that means people are trying to keep safe.

  3. I have Billbergia nutans growing in a pot but don’t know much about it, so it was very interesting to see how it would grow naturally. And those shutters are beautiful!

  4. Fascinating piece, especially interesting to me as I’ve never heard of crape myrtle trees. And I love the photo with the shutters too – the green and pink shades complement each other so well.

  5. I love encountering those old gnarly Crepe Myrtles, there are lots of them around Charleston, SC. The bromeliads you found are a wonderful bonus! Cool image of the window and shutters, too.

    1. I’ve seen the big one at Middleton Place, not far from Charleston, that was planted in 1786. It was only a quick trip – I’d have loved to see more of Charleston and all the window boxes!

      1. I love Middleton Place, so many large old trees and the formal gardens, it’s a great place to roam around when the weather is a little cooler. Charleston’s window boxes would be right up your ally, along with some of the back yard gardens you can see into from the street!

  6. I think a lot of people confuse epiphytes with parasites like mistletoe, for example. In central Texas the most common epiphyte is ball moss (which of course isn’t a moss). An easy way to tell it’s not parasitic is that you occasionally see it growing on something inert, like an iron fence.

    1. I don’t know much about them. It must be interesting to see a plant growing on iron. Could just pick them up and move them or do they wrap on well?

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