Blackgum (Black Tupelo, Sour Gum)
Leaf Characteristics
  • broad, flat
  • simple
  • not lobed
  • smooth margins, entire
  • alternate
  • without needle-like bristles
  • not heart-shaped
  • widest toward tip or middle
  • 1" to 5" long, edges not wavy
  • without silver scales
  • boader toward point at tip
Blackgum (Black Tupelo, Sour Gum)
Fruit Characteristics
  • naked
  • small, fleshy, berry-like
  • two or more clustered at end of stalk
  • dark blue, ovoid
Blackgum (Black Tupelo, Sour Gum)
Nyssa sylvatica

"Tupelo" is a Native American Indian name. This typically medium-sized tree sometimes grows to 90 or 100 feet in height. The brilliant scarlet colors of autumn leaves are among the first to develop as the seasons change. The smooth, gray bark of younger trees darkens with age, breaking into rectangular blocks that are separated by deep crevices. Some writers compare its appearance to that of alligator hide. The tree grows in both moist and dry habitats, in swamps and bottomlands as well as on dry slopes. Except for portions of northwestern Ohio, it has been reported from most counties in the state. The wood is moderately strong, soft but tough, and difficult to split and work. It is used for some furniture, containers, and assorted small woodenware. Many kinds of birds, including the Ruffed Grouse and Wild Turkey, and many mammals feed on the fruit.

Tree Size height 40' - 70' diameter 1' - 3' Bark