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