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Nyssa sylvatica

Common Name(s):

  • Black Gum
  • Black Tupelo
  • Sour Gum
Description

The Nyssa sylvatica or 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 reaches heights of 60 feet or taller with a spread of 20 to 25 feet and casts filtered shade in a landscape.  Although slow-growing, it still needs to be sited in an area which affords plenty of room for future growth, particularly since it is so difficult to transplant due to long taproots.

The bark is light grey and deeply furrowed to create rectangular or square ridges (cobbled).

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.

This tree is moderately salt tolerant.

Seasons of Interest: 

     Leaves:   Fall    Bloom:  Spring, Summer     Fruit/Seed/Nut:  Fall

 Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems:  The Black tupelo has some susceptibility to leaf spots, canker, rust, leaf miner, and scale.

Cultivars:
  • Autumn Cascades (weeping)
  • Green Gable
  • Red Rage
  • Sheri's Cloud (variegated foliage)
  • Wildfire
  • Zydeco Twist (contorted growth)
Tags:
#deciduous#fall color#birds#pollinators#shade tree#songbirds#wildlife plant#shade tolerant#honey bees#nectar plant#salt tolerant#wildlife tree#street tree#reptiles#honey#low flammability#foxes#black bears#bats#wild turkeys#racoons#thrushes#opossums#deer resistant#frogs#fire resistant
Cultivars:
  • Autumn Cascades (weeping)
  • Green Gable
  • Red Rage
  • Sheri's Cloud (variegated foliage)
  • Wildfire
  • Zydeco Twist (contorted growth)
Tags:
#deciduous#fall color#birds#pollinators#shade tree#songbirds#wildlife plant#shade tolerant#honey bees#nectar plant#salt tolerant#wildlife tree#street tree#reptiles#honey#low flammability#foxes#black bears#bats#wild turkeys#racoons#thrushes#opossums#deer resistant#frogs#fire resistant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Nyssa
    Species:
    sylvatica
    Family:
    Nyssaceae
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern North America
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Its young sprouts are eaten by white-tailed deer.  The fruits (berries) are enjoyed by thrushes and other songbirds, wild turkeys, black bear, foxes, raccoons and opossums.  The natural hollows that form in the tree are a refuge for reptiles, tree frogs, bats and other wildlife.  The spring flowers are a nectar source for bees.
    Play Value:
    Wildlife Enhancement
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Resistant to fire. This tree is somewhat resistant to deer damage.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 40 ft. 0 in. - 60 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 20 ft. 0 in. - 30 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Tree
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Open
    Pyramidal
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full Sun (Direct sunlight 8+ hours a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight (2-4 hrs) for only part of the day
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Frequent Standing Water
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    12-24 feet
    24-60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Blue
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Description:
    In the fall the tree produces a bluish black egg-shaped fruit.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Green
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Insignificant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The flowers of the Blackgum that bloom in the spring are not showy. They are 0.5 in. in size.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Orange
    Purple/Lavender
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Orange
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Oblong
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The Blackgum is grown as an ornamental for its beautiful, scarlet red, fall color and the shiny, dark green leaves in the summer. The leaves are 3-6 in. alternate, simple and lustrous that turn yellow, orange, red to purple in the fall. On sprouts or young trees, the leaves may have a few coarse teeth.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Ridges
    Bark Plate Shape:
    Rectangle
    Square
    Bark Description:
    The bark is light grey and deeply furrowed to create rectangular or square ridges (cobbled).
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Landscape Theme:
    Native Garden
    Design Feature:
    Shade Tree
    Street Tree
    Attracts:
    Pollinators
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Salt
    Wet Soil