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Black Gum Tree

(nyssas sylvatica)

Also known as pepperidge, black tupelo, and sour gum.

You know fall foliage is on the way when you see the brilliant red leaves of the black gum. This wide-ranging native tree is among the first to change its colors. One of its common names is Sour Gum which refers to the acid, sour pulp, blue-black berries that ruffed grouse, wild turkeys, and many other mammals eat. In spring, bees use nectar from its flowers to make honey.

Height and spread: 70' x 30'

Form:  Deciduous tree

Soil: Fertile, moist but well-drained and neutral to acid.

Aspect: Sun or partial shade with shelter from cold, drying winds.

Hardiness: Fully hardy, but does best in areas with hot dry summers.


Grow in fertile, moist but well drained and neutral to acid soil in sun or partial shade, with shelter from cold, drying winds.

Prune in late winter or early spring when dormant, removing wayward or crossing shoots to maintain a permanent, healthy framework. In cool-maritime climates if it is difficult to maintain a leader, grow as a multi-stemmed tree.

Generally free from pests and diseases.


Sow seed in a seedbed in autumn though cultivars may not come true. You can also try taking greenwood cuttings in early summer, or semi-ripe cuttings in mid-summer and planting them.



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