Plant types and subtypes: Trees & Shrubs, Trees, Deciduous
Light Requirements: sun, part-sun, part-shade
Water Use: medium
Soil Moisture: dry, moist, wet
Soil Description: acid, neutral, rich, average, poor, loam, clay, sand, gravel/rock
Bloom Time: April, May, June
Bloom Color: white, green
Leaf Color: green
Hardiness Zone: 5, 6, 7, 8
Additional Tags: attracts bees, attracts birds, berries, bog plant, drought tolerant, fall interest, pond margin plant, shade tree, stream margin plant, swamp plant
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Nyssa sylvaticaAlso known as:
Blackgum is a slow growing, deciduous, stately shade tree that can reach heights of 80' or more and up to 4' in diameter. Its shape may vary from conical to pyramidal with a straight trunk and horizontal limbs. The green, leathery leaves are oblong and alternate. They turn spectacular shades of yellow to deep crimson in fall. The color change is less pronounced in the south. The whitish, greenish flowers are unremarkable but provide a good nectar source for honey bees. It produces oval, 1/2" long dark blue fruit that remain sour even when ripe, hence the common name sourgum.
Native to the eastern U.S. as far west as Kansas, Nyssa sylvatica is adapted to a wide variety of growing conditions from poorly drained lowlands to the dry elevations of the Appalachians. Its tap root makes it drought resistant once establish, but difficult to transplant. Great for urban and naturalized settings alike. Make sure to give it ample room to grow. Bloom times vary, depending on geographic location, from April to June. Zones 5-8
Propagate from seeds that have been stripped of pulp. Sow in a moist location sheltered from direct sun. Because of the difficulty in transplanting blackgum, it is best to start them in a permanent location or in containers.
Blackgum fruit are relished by forest animals large and small, from black bears, deer and foxes, to a wide variety of birds.
Native Range & Classification
Recorded County Distribution: USDA data
AL, AR, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MO, MS, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, VT, WI, WV