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Black Gum Tupelo Tree

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Common Name/ Latin Name- Nyssa sylvatica Hardy Planting Zones- Eastern U.S /native to Kentucky Mature Height- 30 to 50 feet Mature Width- 20 to 30 feet

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Black Gum Tupelo Tree - The Many Attributes of Black Gum Trees

The Black Gum Tree is one of the reasons people enjoy the fall season for its beautiful variety of colors in the foliage. It is such a favorite tree for its vibrant display of autumn tones, from yellow to orange and red to purple and scarlet. It can be found from as far north as Ontario all the way down to the tip of Florida and as far west as Texas. It's also known as the black tupelo, and its Latin name is Nyssa sylvatica.

The Black Gum Tree needs at least four hours of direct sunlight each day. It thrives in many types of soil: well-drained, acidic, moist, loamy, silty loam and sandy earth. With these perfect conditions, the tree can grow 12 to twenty-four inches per year. At maturity, the tree can achieve heights of 30 to 50 feet.

As the tree ages, the bark on its dark gray-brown trunk develops furrows which cause it to resemble alligator or crocodile hide. This is yet another reason why this tree is so visibly interesting. The tree's trunk can grow as large as 39 inches in diameter. Trees have been known to grow to 67 inches in diameter and as tall as 115 feet.

The Black Gum Tree's leaves are oval, obovate or elliptical and three to six inches long with serrated edges. The surface of the leaves is shiny with wavy perimeters. Deer enjoy eating these leaves off seedlings, making it difficult for these trees to reach maturity. Each May to June this deciduous tree produces a small greenish-yellowish-white flower that is loved by bees. Many bees in Florida use this tree to create honey, which is richly prized. The tree also provides a small blue-black slightly sour fruit that small birds consume with ferociously. Holes which appear quite often in this tree are frequently inhabited by squirrels, raccoons, honeybees, and opossums.

This tree is used as an ornamental addition to parks and private landscapes. It can adorn a space for as long as 650 years. Spreading its canopy 20-35 feet and joining the company of the brilliant colored trees, Tupelos, maple, dogwood, sassafras and sweet gum in beautifying the landscape each fall.

The Black Gum Tupelo Tree (Nyssa sylvatica) is a tree of many names. Also called the yellow gum, sourgum, beetlebung, Pepperidge, swamp black gum, or Tupelo, this tree is prized for its beautiful autumn colors. As fall arrives, the oval-shaped leaves of the Black Gum Tupelo Tree will lose their dark green hue and take on vibrant red, yellow, orange, and purple tones. The bark is a light reddish-brown and forms furrowed patterns reminiscent of alligator scales. When young, the tree has a pyramidal shape but spreads fuller as it grows. In summer and fall, the flowers and fruit of this tree provide a great boon to the local bees and wildlife. The flowers of this tree are particularly favored by honey producers, especially in Florida where the tree plays an integral part in a multi-million dollar industry. The honey produced from it has a mild, sweet flavor and fetches a high price. The Black Gum Tupelo Tree is native to the Eastern United States. The tree itself will block a decent amount of sun in the summer when it has a full canopy and can be used in areas where shade is desired during the warmer months. In the winter it loses its leaves, allowing the sun to pass through and warm the ground below. It is best planted in acidic, well-drained soil. The growth rate is somewhat slow, at about a foot to two feet per year.