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Sour Gum, Blackgum, Tupelo, Pepperidge

Nyssa sylvatica

Family: Nyssaceae
Genus: Nyssa (NY-suh) (Info)
Species: sylvatica (sil-VAT-ee-kuh) (Info)
View this plant in a garden



Water Requirements:

Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun


Grown for foliage


Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


over 40 ft. (12 m)


over 40 ft. (12 m)


USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us



Bloom Color:


Pale Green

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Late Spring/Early Summer

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From herbaceous stem cuttings

From woody stem cuttings

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse

From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Seed Collecting:

Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:


Atmore, Alabama

Pelham, Alabama

Vincent, Alabama

Morrilton, Arkansas

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Smyrna, Delaware

Miccosukee Cpo, Florida

Port Saint Lucie, Florida

Dacula, Georgia

Marietta, Georgia

Evanston, Illinois

Lisle, Illinois

Winnetka, Illinois

Indianapolis, Indiana

Benton, Kentucky

Clermont, Kentucky

Georgetown, Kentucky

Lexington, Kentucky

Louisville, Kentucky (2 reports)

Thurmont, Maryland

Valley Lee, Maryland

Bridgewater, Massachusetts

Halifax, Massachusetts

Mashpee, Massachusetts

Nantucket, Massachusetts

Chaska, Minnesota

Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota

Golden, Mississippi

Piedmont, Missouri

Lincoln, Nebraska

Monroe, New Hampshire

Rochester, New York

Charlotte, North Carolina

Raleigh, North Carolina

Lakewood, Ohio

Ada, Oklahoma

Cheshire, Oregon

Blairsville, Pennsylvania

Downingtown, Pennsylvania

Lehighton, Pennsylvania

New Caney, Texas

Shepherd, Texas

Lexington, Virginia

Norfolk, Virginia

Seattle, Washington

Tonasket, Washington

Cambridge, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jan 14, 2018, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

This is a beautiful, high quality large tree that grows in bottomlands to uplands from southern Maine down into central Florida into east Texas through southern Missouri into southern Illinois, all of Indiana into southern Michigan and into the southern tip of Ontario. It usually grows about 1 foot/year and lives 150 to 200 years. It forms a taproot and is difficult to transplant, but nurseries do dig young trees up B&B in early spring or grow in containers. It is offered by large, diverse nurseries and native plant nurseries. I see it in the wild in various local spots in Pennsylvania and Delaware. I don't see it planted much in regular yards, unless it was there before the house; however, I see it occasionally planted on estates, in parks, office parks, rest stops, and in other professio... read more


On Jul 13, 2016, Timberplot from Blairsville, PA wrote:

A very nice tree to have growing in the area. The tree does well in wetland conditions and displays awesome Fall color. Nyssa sylvatica provides a blue-black fruit that many birds and mammals make use of. I find the pyramidal form and deeply furrowed bark on mature trees very attractive. I read where 19th century folk used the wood for "nailers" on barn and outbuilding roofs as nails would not "back out" of the shingles or tin when using Blackgum.


On Apr 20, 2015, h9kr4jg8ir5 from Spring, TX wrote:

Gorgeous, big, droopy, leaves with wonderful shape, texture, and color. They're even more gorgeous when they turn red in the fall. Perfect for damp or swampy sites. Grows wonderfully in poor soil. The wildlife love them. This wonderful tree should be part of the backbone of any property. One of the great American natives. One of my favorites. America wouldn't be the same without them.


On Jun 3, 2014, wildbarrett from Lakewood, OH wrote:

I selected mine from those at a garden center. All of the others were very conical in shape, whilst this one had outward reaching top branches, again, parallel with the ground!! Radically different shape than the others, but no cultivar noted. The day I planted it in October one year, the wind shifted and snow began to set in as I worked. (Lake Erie shoreline). To keep the tree from blowing right over out of its hole, which was happening repeatedly as I tried to cover with planting soil, I "sandbagged" him down with the empty soil bags filled with removed clay clods! That way, his roots would not be jostled, he could stand still in place no matter how the wind bent him, gave him a thorough soaking, and winter set in. I left the "sandbags" in place for 1 full year, (plus then the nex... read more


On Sep 23, 2011, thinkinonit from Norfolk, VA wrote:

I have a Nyssa sylvatica var. Biflora, It is a wonderful tree to have if you like to invite birds in your backyard. I have Cardinals that will sit and gorge themsleves on the dark blue fruit. As of yesterday witnessed the Cardinal eating these before they ripened, I guess he couldn't wait any longer.


On Feb 8, 2008, jqpublic from Cary, NC (Zone 7b) wrote:

I love this tree. Great color and form. The branches grow almost perpendicular to the trunk. Offers great winter interest as well when the beautiful fall color is gone! When I 'grow up' I want tons of these trees in my yard!!


On Oct 29, 2006, escambiaguy from Atmore, AL (Zone 8b) wrote:

This tree has great fall color and growth form. It has a nice pyramidal shape when young and grown in the open. Don't try to dig one up to transplant, the large taproot makes it impossible and they won't live. I have noticed that they color up and defoliate a little early in droughty years.


On Jan 2, 2005, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

An absolutely wonderful tree in this area. It grows to a large shade tree and has few pests.

The scarlet leaves in the Fall are distinctive and vibrant. The fruits are eaten by birds and wildlife alike.

It grows well in any well drained soil and I've never noticed that it is more numerous in boggy's a common sight along fencerows in this area, as birds deposit the seeds when they perch on the fences.

Lumber is useful in furniture,paper, veneer and boxes.


On Dec 2, 2004, TREEHUGR from Now in Orlando, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I believe some of the images shown are actually nyssa sylvatica var. biflora (Swamp tupelo) but it's an easy and innocent mistake. Even way down here you can expect that scarlet color in the fall and down here what's nice is that the leaves turn at the same time but it only lasted a week. I had a couple in a shady spot and they have already called it a night. Not sure about the "consistently moist" requirement. Mine are in containers and I never watered them, I just let mother nature take care of that and she did a great job!


On Oct 23, 2004, QueenB from Shepherd, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

One of the few trees in our region that has fall color, usually starting in late summer. These hardwood trees are just that--we dulled a couple of chainsaw blades on a few that had to be taken down, and they were only about 4-6 inches in diameter. (Hint: use a really big chainsaw!) They form straight, smooth trunks and a make a good shade tree if they aren't hindered from spreading by other trees. Birds and squirrels eat the black drupes. The only drawback I've found with mine is that they freely sucker down the trunk and have to be trimmed regularly. I think this is because since our place had been timbered, the lower regions are receiving sunlight and spurring the growth.