Nyssa sylvatica
Common name: 
Sour Gum
Black Gum
Black Tupelo
Pepperidge
Pronunciation: 
NIS-a sil-VAT-i-ka
Family: 
Nyssaceae
Genus: 
Type: 
Broadleaf
Native to (or naturalized in) Oregon: 
No
  • Broadleaf deciduous tree, 30-50 ft, (9-15 m), pyramidal to irregular rounded, variable.   Leaves alternate, ovate, obovate to elliptic (i.e., variable), 7.5-15 cm long, entire margin, but sometimes remotely toothed, glossy (waxy) upper and dull lower surface, good fall color, often bright red.   Dioecious - male and female plants- flowers small, greenish-yellow, in small clusters, more or less inconspicuous.  Fruit, small, green, then blue-black, drupe, 12 mm long.
  • Its variable nature can make it difficult to identify from a small shoot.  Specimens from this tree are sent to Arnold Arboretum more frequently than any other for identification, especially when it is in fruit (Wyman, 1990, p.321).  Look for three vascular bundles in a leaf scar and inspect for chambered pith.
  • Sun or partial shade.  Difficult to transplant because of taproot.  Prefers moist, well-drained, acid soils. Does not tolerate high pH. Shelter from wind.
  • Hardy to USDA Zone 3     Native from Maine, Ontario, Michigan to Florida and Texas.
  • Nyssa: after Nyssa, a water nymph in Greek mythology.  sylvatica: of the woods.
  • Oregon State Univ. campus: row on the north side of the sports field south of Crop Science and along the Campus Way side of Kelley Engineering Center.
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  • emerging leaves and male flowers

    emerging leaves and male flowers

  • young leaves and unopened male flowers

    young leaves and unopened male flowers

  • maturation of male flowers

    maturation of male flowers

  • plant habit, young tree

    plant habit, young tree

  • plant habit, older trees

    plant habit, older trees

  • leaves

    leaves

  • leafy shoot

    leafy shoot

  • leaves, comparison

    leaves, comparison

  • fruit development

    fruit development

  • leaves and fruit, summer

    leaves and fruit, summer

  • leaves, early fall

    leaves, early fall

  • leaves and fruit, early fall

    leaves and fruit, early fall

  • fruit and leaves, early fall

    fruit and leaves, early fall

  • plant habit and leaves, fall

    plant habit and leaves, fall

  • plant habit, fall

    plant habit, fall

  • leaves, fall

    leaves, fall

  • leaves, fall

    leaves, fall

  • leaves, fall

    leaves, fall

  • fruit, winter

    fruit, winter

  • plant habit, winter

    plant habit, winter

  • trunk, bark

    trunk, bark

  • winter twigs, buds

    winter twigs, buds