Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tuesday's Trees- Black Gum


The Black Gum, Nyssa sylvatica is one of the trees that really makes a bold statement in autumn. The fall colors are striking- varying from orange to red to maroon. It is not autumn, so........we will look at this lovely tree as it is in the landscape in summer. I will go back to my previously profiled trees and get some fall photos to show off the great variety of foliage. It will be a fall color posting with links back to the original post.

As I was looking for some good examples of Black Gum to photograph last week I saw that the Sourwood had similar leaf structure -- at a glance that is. I cornered one of my MG friends who is also a knowledgeable tree guy.



I received lots of guidance about the Black Gum, mostly showing me the leaf structure to know which was which.


I have written on each photo with ID on the proper leaf. Please remember to enlarge the photo to see details. The Black Gum, also known as Tupelo, is a darker green, more ovate to obovate. The Sourwood has a lighter green leaf, longer and slightly serrated.
The veining is different with each tree as well. The veins on the Sourwood start branching mid-leaf while the Black Gum veins go to the leaf margins.


The stems are also different-- Sourwood remains green to the leaf while the Black Gum stems are dark.

The Black Gum is a very desirable tree for the landscape, though according to Michael Dirr, is hard to transplant as it matures. It is pyramidal in growth structure making it a wonderful shade tree. Black Gum can be found in zones 4- 9. The bark develops dark scaley ridges as it matures. Like I mentioned earlier, fall color is spectacular. It is fleeting as the leaves fall soon after they reach their dark red color. Fruits ripen as the season progresses...here is the summer coloring. In the fall it will be dark bluish/black and enjoyed by wildlife. As in past weeks I have some more learned descriptions for you. Virginia Tech has a great dendrology catalog. Additionally Pennsylvania Forestry Department has an easy to read brief description. And of course, Wikipedia...
As we were investigating the leaves, we found the culprit that was damaging the leaves. A lace bug.
Always interesting to see what is going on!

Here is a nice photo of fall color --check out more on my Flickr page.
october 25 047

Thanks for stopping by for another chapter in our tree series. Next week will be White Oak.



24 comments:

  1. Do they make jam out of the fruit? Seems I saw a place with a advertisment on the door about the jam and i was surprised to find it up here but if it's up to zone 4, that would cover me!

    ReplyDelete
  2. The bark has pattern very much similar to a local tree here, Tembusu. Edible fruits?
    ~bangchik

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Janet~~ I saw my first [and only thus far] Tupelo growing in a neighbor/friend's garden. A lovely tree.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you for id-ing this tree! It pops up here and now I know! gail

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks for this Janet - really enjoyed this post and grateful (like Gail) for the I-D.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Another way to identify black gums is that their branches tend to come off the trunk at right angles.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This post reminded me of my botany prof in college, who could get tickled pink over telling us the difference between the leaves of one tree and another . . . his enthusiasm was catching.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi Dawn, Your question piqued my interest so I Googled Black Gum jam...sure enough!! I would get a few more sources to verify it is safe to eat-- I am on the cautious side.

    Hi Bangchik, Like I just said to Danw, I think it does have edible fruits... wonder if the local tree for you is a relative of this one?

    Hi Grace, I am glad to see that there are Black Gum in your area. I am looking forward to seeing the fall color.

    Hi Gail, how lucky you are to have these in your area! I am glad you were able to make an ID from the info made available here!

    Hi Charlotte, So glad you stopped by. Hooray for making ID's

    Hi Phillip, Yes, I had that on the first photo, mentioning the horizontal branching, but forgot to put it in the text of the post! thanks for adding it.

    Hi VW, It is fun to be able to see differences--- some of it is harder than I thought!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Another one of my fav. native trees, especially for the fall color. Another telling point between the Sourwood and Black Gum are the fungus spot on every Sourwood I have ever seen.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Janet - I am so enjoying your series of tree posts. Beautiful and educational all at once.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi Les, This is one tree I am for sure adding to my garden in SC. I will have to look again at the Sourwood, fungal spot eh?

    Megan, good morning, thanks so much, I appreciate the comment.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Both of these trees really stand out in the fall forest. I love the reds so much! I also hear the honey that comes from bees who sip nectar from I think the sourwood is really really good. Never had it though they sell it in the mountains of NC. I need to get some.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Such a gorgeous tree! I'm glad you found the culprit damaging your leaves! Now you'll know how to treat it. Nice photography Queenie!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi Tina, yes it is the Sourwood honey that is expecially tasty. I can't wait for the fall colors!

    Hi Daisy, It was fun investigating all the aspects of these trees. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I know very little about gum trees so great post. Do you feel like you are learning a lot too by doing these?

    ReplyDelete
  16. hi Kathleen, thanks! I do learn a lot. It is fun to expand the mind!

    ReplyDelete
  17. It wasn't until you turned them over that it all made sense. Love this series!

    ReplyDelete
  18. These posts are so informative! We have some trees that are old enough to be dangerous and need to be replaced - you're giving me great ideas!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hi Anna, so glad you are enjoying this journey in my education. It was fun getting all the info last Thursday from my forestry friend.

    Hi Ginger, Hope this is info many can use. The Black Gum is a good one to have.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Beautiful photo of the Black Gum from below. I also love your blog header pic- I would love to know the name of that Canna!

    ReplyDelete
  21. hi Littlewing, thanks so much, I am glad you like the photo. I having been looking for the name of the canna... will keep you posted.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Janet girl ! .. I know .. I am slow getting to posts .. drats !
    One of the most perfect Autumn colour trees to me is a tree with a very dark trunk and leaves coloured with touches of red, orange and light gold .. I can see it in my mind's eye as I type this .. I can't wait to SEE THIS one in Autumn colours now : )
    PS .. yes, we spell colour that way here in the Great White North .. haha

    ReplyDelete
  23. I love Black Gums. There is a Black Gum in my MIL's neighborhood that is one of the most beautiful trees in the county. It has a habit like a White Oak, rather than the more typical ghost-like silhouette, and the most magnicent red color in fall. Our Black Gums on the farm tend to black spot before they totally change color, but the Water Tupelos make up for it.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Hi Joy, I look forward to posting all the fall colours! ;-)

    Hi sweet bay, Black Gum are nice trees, glad you have them, sorry about the black spot.

    ReplyDelete

If you use OpenID/Anonymous please sign your name so I know who you are...there is a lot of spam out there. Thanks for visiting today. The Queen would be pleased if you left a comment...... :-D thanks! I do respond to your comments, you can click on the email followup comments to have it in your inbox.

I am now moderating all comments. Too much spam is coming through. Sorry folks.