WSU Clark County Extension

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Black Tupelo

Scientific name: Nyssa sylvatica

Type:Deciduous tree
Plant Requirements
Zone:3 to 9
Plant Characteristics
Height:35 ft
Width:20 ft
Bloom Time:May to June
Bloom Color:Green
Additional Characteristics



Wildlife value

Description Black tupelo (also known as black gum or sour gum) is a Midwest and east coast native that is not all that common here on the west coast, but one that should be as it has shining dark green summer foliage, spectacular red fall color, and a tough urban resiliency.

This deciduous shade tree generally grows 30'-50' tall and 20’-30’ wide. Over time it forms a flat top crown, with somewhat horizontal branches that may droop. It produces leaves which are simple, elliptical and arranged alternately along the stems. Leaves are 3”-6” long and 1.5”-3” wide, and have serrated leaf margins. In the fall the leaves turn a host of different colors including scarlet, purple, yellow, and shades of green, before they are shed for the winter. Flowers may be produced on this tree but they are generally small and not all that notable. If a female tree has been planted it will have half inch long dark blue-black fruit which are readily consumed by the birds and the squirrels, though they are too tart for human consumption.

Black tupelo is best raised under conditions of full sun, on deep evenly moist ground. It does adapt well, however, to our arid summers here in the Northwest.

No serious insect or disease problems.
For assistance, contact Dr. Charles Brun (, (360) 397-6060 5701
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