University of Maryland Extension

Black gum

Photo and text by Ginny Williams

Nyssa sylvatica

Now this is one you should run out and buy if you need a shade tree.  A native that grows up to fifty feet in height and a width of thirty feet, black gum is one of the best trees for fall color going from yellow to orange to red to purple.  Although the flowers are not spectacular, the fruits known as drupes are bluish black and wildlife love them.  Because it is difficult to transplant, plant when small in the spring in moist, well drained acid soil in sun or part shade where sheltered from the wind. For best disease and pest resistance, plant a named variety. It is sensitive to polluted air, but is one of our best native trees.  


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