Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)

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Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)

Crape Myrtle is an abundantly planted ornamental small deciduous tree from China that occasionally escapes from cultivation. It is not a true myrtle, though it is related to myrtles, being in the Order Myrtales. The alternate or subopposite leaves are small, ovate, and untoothed.

Chapel Hill, NC 7/17/05.

Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)

The flowers grow in showy terminal panicles. The plant photographed here (all 4 photos) is a planted specimen of the 'Tuscarora' cultivar, though there were several escaped seedlings beneath it.

Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)

The fruits are dehiscent (splitting open) woody capsules. The ones pictured here are left over from last year.

Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)

The highly ornamental bark exfoliates in thin strips, revealing smooth multicolored bark beneath. The natural form of the tree is a strikingly beautiful vase shape.

Crape Murder (Lagerstroemia indica)

For reasons unfathomable to me, you frequently see trees that have been ruthlessly butchered into ugly, unnatural shapes. This phenomenon is known as crape murder.

Chapel Hill, NC 3/11/06.

More information:
Floridata
NC State
Virginia Tech Dendrology

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Revised 3/12/06 cwcook@duke.edu

All photographs and text 2006 by Will Cook unless otherwise indicated.