Alphabetical Plant Listing

Nyssa sylvatica (Black Gum)

Black Gum, Tupelo, Black Gum Tree, Common Tupelo Tree, Cotton Gum, Pepperidge, Sour Gum Tree


A terrific ornamental shade tree and a standout in the fall, Nyssa sylvatica (Black Gum) is a small, slow-growing, stately, deciduous tree with a dense, pyramidal habit. Typically, many slender, horizontally spreading branches grow from a straight trunk and provide this elegant, broadly conical habit. However, the shape of the crown may vary from tree to tree, some displaying a flat-topped crown. In spring, tiny, inconspicuous, greenish-white flowers appear in clusters at the top of a long stalk. While not showy, they are a rich source of nectar for bees. They give way to small, juicy, dark blue fruits (edible but sour!) that ripen in late summer and are quite popular with many birds and mammals. In fall, its ovate, extremely glossy, dark green leaves, 6 in. long (15 cm), turn striking scarlet, orange, purple and gold tones, often on the same branch, for a spectacular display. Even the distinctive bark, which furrows with age and resembles alligator hide, adds visual and textural interest. Nyssa sylvatica is considered as one of the best and most consistent native trees for fall color and is well displayed as an ornamental in many gardens.

  • Winner of the Gold Medal award of The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and of the Cary Award, which recognizes plants that are particularly adequate for New England, offer superior landscape appeal, are winter hardy and pest resistant. 
  • Grows up to 30-50 ft. tall (9-15 m) and 20-30 ft. wide (6-9 m). While a slow-grower, give it plenty of space as it resents transplanting. Its long taproot precludes moving established trees.
  • A full sun to part shade lover, this plant is easily grown in average, medium to wet, well-drained soils. While moist, acidic soils are preferred, Nyssa sylvatica tolerates poorly-drained soils (can even grow in standing water) or dry soils and is even drought tolerant. Shelter from cold, dry winds.
  • Perfect as specimen plant, in woodland gardens, naturalized areasnear ponds and streams and for foundation plantings.
  • Generally pest and disease free
  • Propagate by seed sown in a seedbed in fall or by softwood cuttings in early summer or semi-hardwood cuttings in midsummer
  • Native to Eastern North America

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Requirements

Hardiness 3 – 9
Heat Zones 7 – 9
Climate Zones 2A, 2B, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21
Plant Type Trees
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Fall
Height 30' – 50' (9m – 15m)
Spread 20' – 30' (6m – 9m)
Water Needs Low, Average
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Plant of Merit, Showy
Native Plants United States, Midwest, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin, Northeast, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Southeast, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Southwest, Oklahoma, Texas
Tolerance Clay Soil, Drought, Dry Soil, Wet Soil
Attracts Birds
Garden Uses Beds and Borders
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow, Traditional Garden

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While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.


Requirements

Hardiness 3 – 9
Heat Zones 7 – 9
Climate Zones 2A, 2B, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21
Plant Type Trees
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Fall
Height 30' – 50' (9m – 15m)
Spread 20' – 30' (6m – 9m)
Water Needs Low, Average
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Plant of Merit, Showy
Native Plants United States, Midwest, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin, Northeast, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Southeast, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Southwest, Oklahoma, Texas
Tolerance Clay Soil, Drought, Dry Soil, Wet Soil
Attracts Birds
Garden Uses Beds and Borders
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow, Traditional Garden

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