Plant Information

Plant Information

Black Gum*

Black gum (Nyssa sylvatica)

Planting Site:

Black gum is a medium-sized native landscape tree with foliage that is glossy green in summer and bright red to deep purple in fall. A stately tree with a straight trunk, it typically grows 30–50 feet tall, but occasionally to 90 feet. Primarily dioecious (separate male and female trees), but each tree often has some perfect flowers. Small, greenish-white flowers appear in spring on long stalks. Although flowers are not showy, they are an excellent nectar source for bees. Fruits mature to a dark blue and are attractive to birds and wildlife. Spectacular scarlet fall color. Black gum grows best in moist, acidic soils, but also makes a good street tree in residential areas, as it tolerates drought and soil compaction.

Illinois native species. 


Nyssa sylvaticaNyssa sylvatica


Street: Appropriate for restricted size planting sites; recommended by the City of Chicago Urban Tree Planting List
Park/Residential: Appropriate for landscaped planting sites including public parks, residential property, golf courses, cemeteries, etc.
Legacy: For plantings with an expected life span of more than 60 years; retained 50 percent or more climate suitability in models for the decade 2080
N/R +35 yrs: Not recommended for plantings with an expected life span of more than 35 years