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Black Tupelo (Black Gum) Nyssa sylvatica

Black Tupelo - Nyssa sylvatica
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One of the most attractive native trees around. Summer leaves are a dark green with a high-gloss appearance, but the most spectacular part of this tree is the fall foliage with many shades of yellow, orange, bright red, purple or scarlet that may appear on the same branch. Bark matures to medium gray and resembles alligator hide. Fruit is bluish-black and is loved by many birds. Makes a strong specimen tree. Grows 30'-50' high, with a 20'-30' spread. Prefers well-drained, acid soils, and full sun to partial shade.

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Zones 4 - 9 Zones 4 - 9
Hardiness Zones 4 - 9
The Black Tupelo (Black Gum) can be expected to grow in the zones shown in color in the arborday.org zone map. View Map
Shade Tree Shade Tree
Type of tree
Shade Trees
30' - 50' High 30' - 50' High
Mature Height
The Black Tupelo (Black Gum) grows to be 30' - 50' feet in height.
20' - 30' Spread 20' - 30' Spread
Mature Spread
The Black Tupelo (Black Gum) has a spread of about 20' - 30' at full maturity.
Slow to Medium Growth Slow to Medium Growth
Growth Rate
This tree grows at a slow to medium growth rate. More about this.
Full Sun Full Sun
Sun
This Black Tupelo (Black Gum) does well in full sun, partial shade.
Various Soils Various Soils
Soil
The Black Tupelo (Black Gum) grows in acidic, loamy, moist, rich, sandy, silty loam, well drained soils.
Oval Shape Oval Shape
Shape
This Black Tupelo (Black Gum) has oval, rounded shape.
Attributes

Excellent specimen tree, can be a fine street tree in residential areas if not heavily polluted. Outstanding summer and fall foliage and habit, lovely in naturalized area. Michael Dirr calls it "one of the best and most consistent native trees for fall color." Grows 30'-50' high, with a 20'-30' spread. Prefers well-drained, acid soils, and full sun to partial shade (full sun is best, but will tolerate partial shade).

Description

One of the most attractive native trees around. Summer leaves are a dark green with a high-gloss appearance, but the most spectacular part of this tree is the fall foliage with many shades of yellow, orange, bright red, purple or scarlet that may appear on the same branch. Bark matures to medium gray and resembles alligator hide. Fruit is bluish-black and is loved by many birds. Makes a strong specimen tree. Grows 30'-50' high, with a 20'-30' spread. Prefers well-drained, acid soils, and full sun to partial shade.

Wildlife Value

Fruits attract many birds and wildlife. Produces nectar and/or pollen, thus providing nutrition for bees in early to late spring.

History/Lore/Use

A tree of many monikers, Black Tupelo is also known in various areas as a gum tree, sour gum, bowl gum, yellow gum or tupelo gum. Still others call it beetlebung, stinkwood, wild peartree or pepperidge.

When combined with the several other tupelo species, these trees have the distinction of being favorites with honey producers. The resulting honey is light and mild-tasting, fetching a high price, especially in Florida where it is annually a million dollar business.

Leaves

Summer leaves are extremely glossy dark green, fall foliage brings many shades of yellow, orange, bright red, purple or scarlet that may appear on the same branch.

Flower Color

Showy and interesting, resembling a petal-less spirea.

Fruit Description

Small, bluish-black