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Black Gum

Latin: Nyssa sylvatica

Family: Nyssaceae

Description - 15 - 24 m in height. Young trees are twiggy, pyramidal, mature trees irregular, cylindrical, flat topped. Forms clones by suckering.

 

Leaf - simple, alternate, shape variable, firm, lustrous, margins toothless, and most wavy toward tip. Fall colour varies between yellow, orange, red, scarlet, and purple. Sometimes only part of the tree turns colour.

 

Bark - grey-brown, deeply fissured, small rectangular blocks similar to alligator skin.

 

Bud - dark reddish-brown, pointed end bud with curved tip, and often hairy. Side buds are smaller and spread widely from the twig.

 

Twig - when cut lengthwise, the twig shows a pith with hard greenish bars - a good identification feature.

 

Flower - greenish flower in clusters of 1 - 3 on long droopy green stems. Sexes usually on separate trees.

 

Fruit - oval in pairs with single stone in fleshy body. The flesh is thin, oily and sour and the stone is indistinctly ribbed. Usually 1 - 3 fruits in each cluster at the end of a long stalk.

 

Habitat - acidic, sandy soils.

 

Wildlife Value - seeds eaten by mammals, flowers provide nectar for insects, buds and foliage for grazing.

 

Wood - concealed parts of furniture, boxes, and crates. Past uses include pipes in salt factories, hatters’ blocks, pistol grips, and rollers for grass.

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48075 Jamestown Line R.R. #2, Aylmer ON N5H 2R2