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Nyssa sylvatica

Black Gum

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Black gum is a stately, slow-growing, deciduous tree with a straight trunk and rounded crown (more pyramidal when young). Small, greenish-white flowers appear in spring and are not showy, but they are an excellent nectar source for honey bees, native bees and other pollinators. Insect-eating birds such as kinglets, phoebes, pine warblers and others visit the tree to feed on the small insects it attracts. Flowers give way to oval, 1/2" long, dark blue fruits that are attractive to a variety of birds. Foliage turns spectacular scarlet, yellow and orange in the fall.

Benefits

Heavy nectar producer, drawing all kinds of pollinators
Insect eating birds visit the tree to feed on pollinators
Excellent fruit for a number of birds
Beautiful in the fall with multiple foliage colors on one tree
Will grow in wet as well as dry soils

Homeowner Growing and Maintenance Tips

Easy to grow in full sun to part shade. A big tree, so give it plenty of room to reach full growth. Will grow in a variety of conditions from boggy soils to dry, sandy ones. Plant in masses to assure berry set.


While it prefers moist soil it can be found in nature on dry mountain ridges and burned over forest land.


Height
30-40 Feet

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Spread
20-30 Feet

USDA Hardiness Zone 4-9

Native Range

Low woods, swamps; Maine southern Ontario, and Minnesota south to Texas and Florida

Native Trivia

The tree also goes by the common name "sour gum." That is because the fruit, though technically edible, is quite sour. Beekeepers value the nectar for making quality honey.


"Birds love this tree's flowers and fruit!"

Characteristics & Attributes

Plan Sub Group
Deciduous Trees
Exposure
Filtered Shade
Sun
Soil
Wide soil tolerance
Soil Moisture Preference
Average
Dry
Moist
Moist but well-drained
Wet
Attracts Wildlife
Beneficial insects
Songbirds
Bloom Time
Late Spring / Early Summer
Habitat Collection
Butterfly
Songbird
Wet Sun
Native Habitat
Forest
Riparian, wetland
Foliage Color
Green
Uses
Accent
Erosion control
Specimen
Native to
Alabama
Arkansas
Connecticut
Delaware
District of Columbia
Florida
Georgia
Illinois
Indiana
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Mississippi
Missouri
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New York
North Carolina
Ohio
Oklahoma
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
Tennessee
Texas
Vermont
Virginia
West Virginia
Wisconsin