Black Gum

Nyssa sylvatica

Large tree often growing greater than 80′ tall.

Leaves: simple, deciduous, alternate, oval, dark green above, 2-5″ in length, distinctive parallel veins, leaves turn bright red to scarlet in fall.

Flowers: greenish in early spring when leaves are about 1/3 grown. Male and female sometimes form on different trees. The male has many flowered heads and the female usually in two flowered clusters.

Fruit: drupe, round and dark blue about 1/2″ in diameter enclosing a single ribbed seed. Clusters of 2-3, mature in the fall.

Twigs: reddish brown and slender with chambered pith, at first slightly hairy but becoming smooth later, buds are dark brown.

Bark: on mature trees conspicuous blocks that are dense and gray to black.

Comments: Limbs often attached to the tree at right angles. Often develops hollows or cavities in the trunk which makes it a good den tree for wildlife. Can tolerate poorly drained sites.

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