Black Gum (Tupelo)
At a Glance
Latin Name: Nyssa sylvatica
Other common names: Tupelo, Pepperidge Tree
Mature Height: 30-50 ft tall Spreads 20-30 ft. Slow growth rate
Soil / Climate: Zones 3-9
Black Gum can grow on a variety of soil types but prefers moist, well-drained, acidic deep soils and full sun. It is often found on moist ground along rivers and streams. From southern Maine to southern Michigan to Florida. It has a taproot, making it difficult to transplant and fire resistant.
Notes: Autumn Foliage is a very showy florescent yellow to orange to red or purple colors. Fruit ripens in September and is a favorite of birds. Tupelo wood is used by woodcarvers, especially for carving ducks and other wildfowl. In the lumber industry it is used for shipping containers and interior parts of furniture and is used extensively in the veneer and plywood. The wood can be readily pulped and is used for high-grade book and magazine papers. Growth rate is slow to medium.
Wildlife: Many species of birds and wildlife eat the fruit, and bees use the nectar to make honey. Black gum heartwood often rots, creating dens for wildlife, including black bears. Whitetail deer will browse young black gum shoots.
Purchase Size: 2-3 ft.
USDA NRCS Species Information