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Nyssa sylvatica

Common Name(s):
Black gum, Black tupelo, Sour gum
Green Gable, Wildfire, Red Rage, Zydeco Twist (contorted growth), Sheri's Cloud (variegated foliage), Autumn Cascades (weeping)
Native Plants, Trees

The black tupelo is a native to Eastern North America. It can be found from the New England states in the North down into Florida and as far west as Eastern Texas. It grows best along the riverbed where the soil is moist but well drained. However it is very adaptable and can also be found growing naturally in well-drained Sandy, Clay Loam. Long taproots prevent sucess with transplanting. It reaches heights of 60 feet or taller with a spread of 20 to 25 feet and casts filtered shade in a landscape. This tree is resistant to damage by deer.

It is grown as an ornamental for its beautiful, scarlet red, fall color and the shiny, dark green leaves in the summer. The flowers in the spring are not very noticeable, but they are interesting and are a nectar source for bees. Tupelo honey is highly prized. Black tupelo has a flowering habit that is polygamodioecious. Polybamodioecious is a big word meaning some plants have mostly male flowers while others have mostly female flowers, with most plants having a few perfect flowers. This would account for some plant being loaded with berries, while others may only have a few berries. As the dark blue/black berries ripen in the fall the birds devour them.

40-60 ft.
Flowers are not showy; 0.5 in. bluish black fruit in fall
Sun to partial shade; prefers moist, well drained soil; provide shelter from wind
Pyramidal when young; opens with age; some branches are pendulous; right angled branches are attractive in winter
20-30 ft.
Growth Rate:
Slow to moderate
3-6 in. alternate, simple, lustrous, dark green leaves; yellow, orange, red to purple fall color
deciduous, fall color, deer resistant, nectar plant, honey bee, wildlife tree

NCCES plant id: 2064

Nyssa sylvatica Nyssa sylvatica
Tom Potterfield, CC BY-NC-SA - 2.0
Nyssa sylvatica Nyssa sylvatica foliage
Tom Potterfield, CC BY-NC-SA - 2.0
Nyssa sylvatica Whole tree
Geneva Wirth, CC BY-NC-2.0