Lagerstroemia speciosa

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The tree is native of India. It is a medium-sized deciduous tree, generally up to 13 m in height. It is slightly messy, but there's no denying the beauty of the spectacular flowers in the summer.
© Plant Creations
The tree in blossom.
© Plant Creations

Local names:
Burmese (gawkng-uchyamang), English (queen's flower,queen of flowers,queen crape myrtle,pride of India), Filipino (banaba), Hindi (arjuna,bondaro,challa,ajhar,jarul,varagogu,moto-bhandaro), Indonesian (bungur), Javanese (ketangi), Malay (bongor biru), Th

Lagerstroemia speciosa is a deciduous or semi-deciduous small to medium-sized or rarely large tree up to 40(45) m tall; bole fairly straight to crooked, branchless for up to 18 m, up to 100(-150) cm in diameter, often fluted and sometimes with small buttresses, bark surface smooth or with small papery flakes, grey to light fawn-brown mottled, inner bark fibrous, grey-fawn to yellow, turning dirty mauve or purple upon exposure; crown usually bushy and spreading.

Leaves opposite, distichous, simple, entire, stipules minute or absent.

Flowers in a large, axillary or terminal panicle, often showy, calyx funnel or bell shaped, 6(9) lobed, petals often 6, inserted near the mouth of the calyx tube, white to pink or purple, clawed, wrinkled, stamens many, in several rows, ovary superior, 3-6 locular with many ovules in each cell, style 1.

Fruit a large woody capsule on the persistent calyx.

Seed with an apical wing.

The generic name commemorates M. Lagerstroem, 1691-1759, a Swedish patron of science and the specific epithet 'speciosa' is a Latin word for showy, referring to the flowers.


It is found at low to medium altitudes in comparatively open habitats, in disturbed or secondary forest, grassland, and along rivers. The habitat may vary from well drained to occasionally flooded but not peat soil. It is resistant to fire.

Native range
Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam

Tree management

In trials in Java, 15-year-old trees attained a mean annual increment of 0.9-1.1 cm in diameter and 0.7-0.9 m in height. In trials at 3 m x 1 m on fertile soil in Java the canopy closed after 6 years and the first thinning was necessary after 8 years. Due to poor natural pruning a spacing of 2.5 m x 1 m is recommended. At 15.5 years the clear bole yield in the trial was 47-55 m cu/ha. It has been proposed to girdle trees 2 years before harvest to allow for easier seasoning. The tree coppices freely and is fairly resistant to fire.

There are 165 000-235 000 seeds/kg. Seed storage behaviour appears to be orthodox. Viability maintained after 2 years hermetic storage at room temperature. Germination increases during the first 3-12 months of storage (Hong, 1996).

It is found at low to medium altitudes in comparatively open habitats, in disturbed or secondary forest, grassland, and along rivers. The habitat may vary from well drained to occasionally flooded but not peat soil. It is resistant to fire.

The tree can be propagated by seed. Branch and root cuttings have been used occasionally and tissue culture has been successful on an experimental scale. Seeds should be sown in the shade, germination takes 15-56 days. After germination the small seedlings can be pricked out and transferred to containers. Stumps with a shoot length of 5-10 cm, a root length of 10-20 cm and a diameter of 5-25 mm have shown 90-100 % survival.

Poison:  Roots, stems and leaves contain hydrocyanic acid.

The tree has been used in reforestation of degraded hills in Java.

Erosion control:  Due to the tree’s dense and widespreading root system, it is used in erosion control.

The gross energy value of L. speciosa wood is 18 855-19 230 kJ/kg.

Timber:  The medium-weight hardwood  has a density of 505-810 kg/cu m at 15 % moisture content. Heartwood pale brown, yellow-brown, greyish or reddish to red-brown, not differentiated from the white or grey-white to yellow-brown, up to 8 cm wide sapwood. Grain straight or slightly interlocked, occasionally conspicuously wavy, texture moderately fine to rather coarse, lustrous. The timber is resistant to termites.

Tannin or dyestuff:  Bark, fruit (14-17 %) and leaves (12-13 %) contain tannin.

Lipids: Seeds of L. speciosa yield an oil whose main constituents are linoleic (54.3%), a keto (9-ketooctadec-cis-11-enoic acid, 21.1%), oleic (10.3%), palmitic (9.7%) and stearic (4.6%).

Medicine:  A decoction of the bark is used against diarrhoea and abdominal pains. A leaf poultice is used to relief malarial fever and is applied on cracked feet. A preparation from dried leaves, known as banaba, is widely used in the Philippines to treat diabetes and urinary problems.

Ornamental:  L. spciosa  is cultivated for ornamental purposes and as a roadside tree.

The tree is used as a support for rattan.