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
    Poor
  • Freedom from insect pests
    Excellent
  • Freedom from disease problems
    Excellent
  • Resistance to storm damage
    Good
  • Will grow on poorly drained soil
    Good
  • Will grow in hot, dry areas
    Poor
  • Easy to transplant
    Very poor
  • Withstands city conditions
    Poor

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.

G6800, revised June 2008

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