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.
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.
The fruits are dehiscent (splitting open) woody capsules. The ones pictured here are left over from last year.
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.
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.
Another example of "crape murder". The practice is still very common, though it turns naturally beautiful trees into grotesque shapes. They never fully recover from the butchery.
Chapel Hill, NC 4/1/2014.