Thursday, October 12, 2006

Nyssa sylvatica - amazing fall color

We've planted a lot of trees on our 10-acre property, but the most impressive one for fall color is Nyssa sylvatica, also known as sour gum, black tupelo or black gum.

Our tree (shown above and below) is still quite small, less that five feet tall, but certainly nicely established after planting two or three years ago.

Although Nyssa sylvatica is a North American native - it grows in Maine, Ontario, Michigan and ranges south to Florida and Texas - it is not easy to find at garden centers. This is mostly because the tree is hard to propagate from cuttings and has a tap root that makes transplanting larger specimens difficult.

The best way to get it established is to buy a container-grown plant in a small size and site it in a moist area. But you do have to hunt around: I managed to get one at the University of Guelph Arboretum plant sale.

Nyssa sylvatica will reach 30 to 50 feet in height, and grows 12 to 15 feet over about 10 to 15 years, so one needs a little patience, but its glossy leaves and outstanding fall color make it worth growing.

Here's a link to a good article about Nyssa sylvatica with lots more growing information.

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