A primer on lagerstroemia, All you've ever wanted to know
Botanist Thawatchai Santisuk has written the perfect companion for the many plant lovers who have trouble telling species of this large and lovely genus apart
Trees in the genus Lagerstroemia are a common sight along many of Bangkok's roads, among them Rama IV, Si Ayutthaya, Phetchaburi and Phitsanulok leading to Government House. But although they comprise several species, at first glance they all look so similar that not many people can tell them apart. Adding to the confusion is the fact that the trees are called by different names in different localities, and some people lump them together under one name, generally tabaek, or salao, or inthanin.
PRETTY IN PURPLE: The flowers of ‘inthanin-bok’, or ‘Lagerstroemia macrocarpa’.
Actually the various species can be differentiated from one another through their trunks, according to botanist Thawatchai Santisuk of the Royal Forest Department, who is an expert on the Lythraceae family of plants that includes Lagerstroemia. In the book, Economic Trees of Thailand, Part One, published in Thai by the department, he writes that if the trunk's surface is grey or whitish grey, smooth and shiny but marked by round, shallow scars, then the tree is tabaek-na (Lagerstroemia floribunda).
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