i can't wait
let us know, ok?
There are a few interesting little updates to this saga.
I managed to connect a few more dots and even add an interesting 'twist' to this whole thing. Let me line my ducks up here which will need to include some modification to what and/or how I stated some things above. This may get lengthy.
So far I've only received an email back from a female Horticulturist at Miss. State University. She says that Crape Myrtle and crapemyrtle are the correct common names and ways of writing it. She advised that it's always best to refer to a plant
by its scientific name due to the variances common names can suffer over time. This launched me on even more of a search and I started with the origins of the word 'crepe' and the word 'crape' as well as the origins of the tree
, the paper, and the fabric ("crape" was associated with a fabric). Here we go with a breakdown:
, the fabric, and the paper all originated in China.
"Crepe" is a french word that has been used to identify a particular form of french pastry for over 800 years. Obviously far before the United States ever existed. It is taken from the Latin word "crispus" or "crispa" both of which refer to both "crisp" and "curled."
"Crape" is an Anglicized (English) version of the french word "Crepe" but its origins are associated with fabric that resembles crepe paper. In the 1800's "Crepe" fabric (crinkly/wavy texture like crepe paper) was one of just a few popular fabrics chosen for "mourning clothes" and, obviously, was always chosen in black. It was decided to change the spelling of the black fabric to "Crape" to distinguish it from other crepe fabrics that were inappropriate for mourning such as "Crepe de chine" which is a very thin version of the fabric. If the word "crape" was used, it was assumed to be regular black crepe.
My grandmother took 4 years of latin in college and was very big on tracing the origins of words and she was a big reader, too. Anyway, she always referred to the tree
as the Crepe Myrtle and always told me that it was due to the look and behavior of the shedding bark. It's both "crisp" and "curled" which tracks with the translations of the french word and the latin.
An interesting twist that popped into my head while I was cutting up a red potato
to boil for supper last night is that it's highly possible that someone, somewhere made a connection to the "mourning cloth" called "crape" and the fact that the tree
"weeps." I'll bet a dollar to a doughnut that's how the common name got skewed somewhere along the line.
In the south, mourning was a big deal and there were obviously a lot of Crepe Myrtles around. I can see some gentle southern ladies sitting in a lovely garden with Crepe Myrtles around while commiserating on the death of a loved one and commenting that even the trees
were weeping. Hence "crape" being adopted for the tree
. Maybe that's just my warped mind but it seems clear as a bell to me.
In one article about the tree
, I read that the "correct" common name of the tree
is making a comeback "to its roots"...coming back to "Crepe."
So there that is. As far as I'm concerned the "official" common name is Crepe Myrtle and its name references the bark. Although the other applications to blooms and to the "weeping" can have a place in the whole scheme of things because they indirectly relate and even moreso because they're interesting.