Great State: Oklahoma’s ‘Crapemyrtle Capital’ is a City in Summer Bloom

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DUNCAN, OKLAHOMA -- It's been 25 years since Carolyn Rodgers first drove the streets of Duncan.

It was June and the Crapemyrtles were just coming into their full glory.

"I was really smitten," she recalls, "and I thought, 'wouldn't it be neat...'"

Never one to just sit and gawk, Carolyn dove head first into her new community.

"I volunteered to be Chairman of Duncan Beautification," she says, "with the idea of us becoming the crapemyrtle capital."

It took a few years and a small legislative scuffle from another community that sought the title,

Rodgers eventually got her wish.

"It was a slam dunk," she smiles. "We did become the crapemyrtle capital of Oklahoma."

This flowering bush took it's time getting here.

European traders brought the first plants from China to Great Britain in 1759.

The climate was too cool for them to properly bloom.

Then, in 1786, the first crapemyrtle cuttings arrived in Charleston, South Carolina and they took off.

The plants thrive in heat.

They grow in all different types of soil.

They don't even mind drouth if they're root system is well established.

In Duncan crapemyrtles are right at home.

Rodgers says, "You can abuse them and they still grow. If you want to get rid of one you have to dig it all the way up."

"Why would you want to do that," asks a town visitor?

"Exactly," Carolyn replies.

Her current efforts involve putting up 'Crapemyrtle Trail' signs around town directing people to the best places to see them.

She carries a special set of shears in the trunk of her car.

Even on a hot afternoon Carolyn can't resist doing a little pruning at Memorial Park right under the nose of a statue dedicated to Earl P. Halliburton, the founder of the Halliburton energy giant.

"There's so much heat hear," she says, "and they just love, love, love the heat."

As you gaze upon their beauty there are a couple of things you should know about Oklahoma Crapemyrtles.

Carolyn says it IS possible to harm them by trimming the plant back too far.

She has a name for that.

"It's 'crapemurder'," she says.

The other is the spelling of the word.

In Oklahoma, crapemyrtle is one word.

Rodgers has a crapemyrtle book to her credit, and a monthly newspaper column.

She might even claim Crapemyrtle Queen as a title, but that would be a bit showy.

The true crown, she says, rests heavily on the head of every branch in August, jewels of every color adorning every street in Duncan.

Oklahoma crapemyrtles bloom from June into September.

McKinney, Texas calls itself 'America's Crape Myrtle City'.

Notice how they spell 'crapemyrtle' south of the Red River.

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