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Firestarter Black Gum

Nyssa sylvatica 'JFS-red'

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Firestarter Black Gum (Nyssa sylvatica 'JFS-red') at Snavely's Garden Corner

Firestarter Black Gum foliage

Firestarter Black Gum foliage

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Height:  35 feet

Spread:  18 feet

Sunlight:  full sun  partial shade 

Hardiness Zone:  4a

Other Names:  Tupelo, Black Tupelo, Sour Gum, Pepperidge

Description:

A beautiful native variety producing foliage that matures to a glossy dark green, then fiery scarlet in fall earlier than other cultivars; upright, narrow oval habit with upswept branching; needs moist, organic, acidic soils; intolerant of urban pollution

Ornamental Features

Firestarter Black Gum has forest green foliage throughout the season. The glossy pointy leaves turn an outstanding scarlet in the fall. The flowers are not ornamentally significant. It produces black berries in early fall. The furrowed black bark adds an interesting dimension to the landscape.

Landscape Attributes

Firestarter Black Gum is a deciduous tree with a strong central leader and a shapely oval form. Its average texture blends into the landscape, but can be balanced by one or two finer or coarser trees or shrubs for an effective composition.

This is a relatively low maintenance tree, and is best pruned in late winter once the threat of extreme cold has passed. It is a good choice for attracting birds to your yard. It has no significant negative characteristics.

Firestarter Black Gum is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • Accent
  • Shade
  • Vertical Accent

Planting & Growing

Firestarter Black Gum will grow to be about 35 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 18 feet. It has a low canopy with a typical clearance of 3 feet from the ground, and should not be planted underneath power lines. It grows at a medium rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for 70 years or more.

This tree does best in full sun to partial shade. It does best in average to evenly moist conditions, but will not tolerate standing water. It is very fussy about its soil conditions and must have rich, acidic soils to ensure success, and is subject to chlorosis (yellowing) of the leaves in alkaline soils. It is quite intolerant of urban pollution, therefore inner city or urban streetside plantings are best avoided, and will benefit from being planted in a relatively sheltered location. Consider applying a thick mulch around the root zone in winter to protect it in exposed locations or colder microclimates. This is a selection of a native North American species.

 
 
Hardiness Zone Plant Height Minimum Sunlight Soil pH Preference
Characteristics
Accent  Shade  Articulation 
Applications
Fruit  Fall Color  Plant Form  Bark  Attracts Wildlife 
Ornamental Features

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