blackgum
Nyssa sylvatica

Blackgum is a common deciduous species of eastern forests, capable of growing on a wide variety of sites. It is often found in an intermediate or understory position. Blackgum is valued for its potential to provide useful wood and wildlife sustenance.

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Light Fall Color Water
Growth   Size

Timber Value

      Blackgum's light, uniformly textured wood makes good containers, crossties, pallets, lumber, flooring, paper pulp, rollers in glass factories, gunstocks, and occasionally veneer.


Wildlife Value
      Blackgum fruits are a good source of crude fat, fiber, phosphorous, calcium, and are consumed by many species. Young sprouts are browsed by deer. Cavities are common in blackgums, making the tree useful for dens and nesting. Flowers provide nectar for bees and other insects.
          Attracts: bees, birds, deer, small mammals

Regeneration methods
      Blackgum is not likely to be deliberately regenerated, although its utility for wildlife purposes may lead to its encouragement. Clearcut, shelterwood, and group selection methods all work well.

Fun facts
Some taxonomists place the genus Nyssa in the Cornaceae (dogwood) family. Blackgum is very adaptable, and competes well in swampy areas and dry uplands. Blackgum's shiny leaves are amongst the first to break bud in the spring, and some of the first to turn brilliant red in the fall. The intense fall foliage lends ornamental value.
Nyssa: Greek "Nysa" - a water nymph / sylvatica: of the woods - Latin "silva" (forest)
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2004 Virginia Tech Forestry Department, all rights reserved. Text, images, and programming by: Dr. Jeff Kirwan, Dr. John R. Seiler, John A. Peterson, Edward C. Jensen, Guy Phillips, or Andrew S. Meeks.

questions, comments, and criticisms: email John.Peterson@vt.edu