G6800 Selecting Landscape Plants: Shade Trees | Page 5 | University of Missouri Extension

Revised June 2008

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Selecting Landscape Plants: Shade Trees

Black gum (Nyssa sylvatica)

Medium-sized trees

Black gum
Black gum

  • Maximum height
    30 feet
  • Relative growth rate
  • Freedom from insect pests
  • Freedom from disease problems
  • Resistance to storm damage
  • Will grow on poorly drained soil
  • Will grow in hot, dry areas
  • Easy to transplant
    Very poor
  • Withstands city conditions

The scarlet to orange fall color of the black gum is one of the most brilliant fall colors of any tree species. It is a densely pyramidal tree with lustrous, dark green leathery leaves. It is a difficult tree to transplant, and like most hard-to-transplant trees, the smaller sizes have a better chance of surviving after they are moved. Black gum is sometimes difficult to find in many nurseries, but it should become more commonly available as more people get to know its merits. It is a slow-growing but pest-free tree.

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