Nyssa sylvatica, Black Gum, Sour Gum, Black Tupelo

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

Commonly found in a variety of sites from creek bottoms to upland slopes throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region (except for northern-most Pennsylvania), Black Gum is noted for its beautiful yellow to orange to scarlet fall foliage. Bees make a flavorful honey from the nectar-rich flowers, while many birds and mammals enjoy the juicy fruit.

Print Version: Nyssa sylvatica, Black Gum, Sour Gum, Black Tupelo

Nyssa sylvatica, Black Gum, Black Tupelo Tre Height: 30–75 feet Spread: 20–50 feet Bloom Color: Greenish white Characteristics Medium-sized, deciduous tree with straight trunk and dense rounded crown Dioecious: separate male and female plants Glossy, oval, simple leaves, 2- to 5-inches long Light green flower clusters—dense heads on male trees; sparse female clusters—from April to June Bluish fruits in September and October Impressive red fall foliage Gray furrowed bark turns black and alligator hide- like as tree ages; limbs often at right angles to trunk Attributes Tolerates clay, wet soil, and some drought No serious pests or diseases; deer rarely damage but may browse on twigs and foliageFlowers attract bees; larval host of several moth species; fruits attract birds and other wildlife; cavities provide dens and nesting habitat Growing and Maintenance Tips Soil Requirements: Well-drained, acidic Light Requirements: Sun, Partial Shade Water Requirements: Moist, Wet Site carefully as it is difficult to transplant Use for lawn, street, rain garden, or erosion control Hardiness: USDA Zones 3–9 Excellent Replacement for Acer platanoides - Norway Maple Broussonetia papyrifera - Paper Mulberry Melia azedarach - Chinaberrry Morus alba - White Mulberry

Learn more about other Mid-Atlantic plants: Tried and True Plant Fact Sheets