Plant DetailShow Menu

Black Gum Nyssa sylvatica

Other Common Name(s):

Other plants called Black Gum:

Phonetic Spelling
NY-suh sil-VAT-ee-kuh
Description

Blackgum is a deciduous tree that may grow 50 to 80 feet tall. It is found in dry upland forests (occasionally bottomlands), savannas, and upland depressions that are occasionally flooded. The tree has alternative leaves with a smooth margin. On sprouts or young trees, leaves may have a few coarse teeth. The leaves have a beautiful red fall color. The bark is light gray and deeply furrowed to create rectangular or square ridges (cobbled). In spring, small, light green flowers mature in clusters. The tree produces an egg-shaped, blue-black fruit which matures in the fall. This tree is tolerant of heat. It is mostly dioecious: male plants are helpful in getting female fruit sets. 

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.

Fire Risk: This plant has a low flammability rating.

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.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Fescue Grass Entrance Statement
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Autumn Cascades'
    Weeping
  • 'Green Gable'
  • 'Red Rage'
  • 'Sheri's Cloud'
    Variegated foliage
  • 'Snow Flurries'
  • 'Sparkler'
  • 'Wildfire'
  • 'Zydeco Twist'
    Contorted growth
Tags:
#bees#deciduous#fall color#shade tree#heat tolerant#wildlife plant#native tree#shade tolerant#honey bees#nectar plant#salt tolerant#street tree#reptiles#honey#food source#low flammability#NC native#foxes#black bears#bats#wild turkeys#racoons#thrushes#opossums#deer resistant#frogs#fire resistant#bears#pollinator plant#Braham Arboretum#honeybees#food source fall#food source herbage#food source nectar#coastal FAC#Piedmont Mountains FAC#fruits#bird friendly#mammals#food source soft mast fruit#audubon
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Autumn Cascades'
    Weeping
  • 'Green Gable'
  • 'Red Rage'
  • 'Sheri's Cloud'
    Variegated foliage
  • 'Snow Flurries'
  • 'Sparkler'
  • 'Wildfire'
  • 'Zydeco Twist'
    Contorted growth
Tags:
#bees#deciduous#fall color#shade tree#heat tolerant#wildlife plant#native tree#shade tolerant#honey bees#nectar plant#salt tolerant#street tree#reptiles#honey#food source#low flammability#NC native#foxes#black bears#bats#wild turkeys#racoons#thrushes#opossums#deer resistant#frogs#fire resistant#bears#pollinator plant#Braham Arboretum#honeybees#food source fall#food source herbage#food source nectar#coastal FAC#Piedmont Mountains FAC#fruits#bird friendly#mammals#food source soft mast fruit#audubon
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Nyssa
    Species:
    sylvatica
    Family:
    Nyssaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern North America, NC
    Distribution:
    Maine south to FL west to TX OK NB and Missouri north east through IL and MI and Ontario
    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 Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Resistant to fire. This tree is somewhat resistant to deer damage.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 30 ft. 0 in. - 100 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 20 ft. 8 in. - 35 ft. 6 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Open
    Pyramidal
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Dry
    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. Fruits are available August-October.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Insignificant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The flowers of the Blackgum that bloom in the spring are not showy. They are 0.5" in size. Flowers bloom April-June.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant 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:
    Dentate
    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" 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
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Shade Tree
    Street Tree
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Specialized Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Fire
    Heat
    Salt
    Wet Soil