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 wider 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. Best suited for Zones 4-9, this tree prefers full sun but can also be planted in part shade, provided it attains a minimum of 4 hours of sun per day. 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 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. When fully matured, a Black Gum Tupelo Tree will usually have a height of about 30-50’, though it can grow as tall as 75’. Width is about 20’-30’.
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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