Nyssa sylvatica
Black Gum

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Butterfly FriendlyPart ShadeBird FriendlyFall Color
Black Gum
Nyssa sylvatica

Black gum is a stately, slow-growing, deciduous tree with a straight trunk and rounded crown (more pyramidal when young). Small, greenish-white flowers appear in spring and are not showy, but they are an excellent nectar source for honey bees, native bees and other pollinators. Insect-eating birds such as kinglets, phoebes, pine warblers and others visit the tree to feed on the small insects it attracts. Flowers give way to oval, 1/2" long, dark blue fruits that are attractive to a variety of birds. Foliage turns spectacular scarlet, yellow and orange in the fall.

Heavy nectar producer, drawing all kinds of pollinators
Insect eating birds visit the tree to feed on pollinators
Excellent fruit for a number of birds
Beautiful in the fall with multiple foliage colors on one tree
Will grow in wet as well as dry soils

Native Range

Low woods, swamps; Maine southern Ontario, and Minnesota south to Texas and Florida

Interesting Facts

The tree also goes by the common name "sour gum." That is because the fruit, though technically edible, is quite sour. Beekeepers value the nectar for making quality honey.


Easy to grow in full sun to part shade. A big tree, so give it plenty of room to reach full growth. Will grow in a variety of conditions from boggy soils to dry, sandy ones. Plant in masses to assure berry set.

Mature Size: 30-40ft. Tall x 20-30ft. Wide

Hardiness Zone: 4-9

Sun Exposure: Part Shade

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