Nyssa sylvatica - Black Tupelo or Black Gum

Family - Nyssaceae

Size - Slow growing to 50 feet in landscape situations, can be found taller in the wild. Spread is approximately 1/2 the height. Pyramidal when young assuming a somewhat rounded or even flat topped shape when older with spreading horizontal branches. About 1 foot per year of growth could be expected.

Foliage -Alternate, simple, obovate;dark glossy green in summer, fall color is where it really shows off with scarlets, purples, yellows and oranges. Black Tupelo, (along with Sourwood,Sweetgum and Sasafrass) are the most consistent native trees we have in regard to fall color.

Flower/Fruit/Seed -Fruit is a purplish drupe about 1/2"in length which matures in the fall. Not highly noticeable but is attractive. Generally drops before the foliage and looks like a shriveled raisin. A food source for many different forms of wildlife.

Bark -Dark gray, heavily ridged and furrowed. On younger trees it's not as noticeable but still attractive.

Pests and Diseases -Leaf spots, but nothing particularly serious.

Landscape Use -Specimen tree. Is a slow grower, making it adaptable to the smaller landscape. Is not adaptable to heavily polluted areas or tolerant of high pH soils.

Performance -When given the proper location and cultural requirements there are few native trees which are nicer. Can tolerate wet lowland areas to high ridges in mountains. On campus we have Black Tupelo in both extremes; one which is about 25 feet in height stands at the edge of a wooded area, the other is located in an area we call "Beaver Bottom", it is about 60 feet in height. The tree in the first photo is one that we were fortunate to have here before the university. It is about 45 to 50 feet in height. Prefers a lower pH, 5.5 to 6.5. Transplant in the spring.


Black Tupelo

Black Tupelo in Fall

Black Tupelio bark

blacktupelo-young