Common Trees of the North Carolina Piedmont

Stephen M. Seiberling, Alan S. Weakley, and Peter S. White

Nyssa sylvatica Marsh. Black gum, black tupelo, pepperidge, sour gum. Synonyms Nyssa sylvatica var. caroliniana (Poir.) Fern., Nyssa sylvatica var. dilatata Fern. Family Nyssaceae. ITIS Taxonomic Serial Number 27821. USDA PLANTS Symbol NYSY. TROPICOS # 08700079.

Images • Branchlet with leaves. • Individual leaf 1. • Individual leaf 2. • Individual leaf 3. • Branchlet with buds. • Close-up of buds. • Herbarium sheet 1. • Herbarium sheet 2. • Herbarium sheet 3. • Herbarium sheet 4. • Herbarium sheet 5.

Detailed Description:

Plant habit and life style. Plants Angiosperms, dioecious or polygamous, (10–)15–30(–45) m tall.

Stems. Pith continuous or diaphragmed. Young twigs (1-year-old or less) brown or green or orange or reddish-brown, glabrous or glabrate or pubescent. Twigs (2–4 years old) glabrous. Leaf scars crescent-shaped or half-round or heart-shaped or triangular, bundle scars 3 per leaf scar, stipule scars absent. Bark of mature trunks checkered or furrowed or ridged.

Buds. Buds axillary or superposed or terminal, brown or red or reddish-brown, 3–6 mm long, ovoid, blunt or sharp, pubescent, bud scales imbricate.

Leaves. Leaves deciduous, simple, petiolate, alternate, (2.5–)5–15 cm long, (1.3–)2.5–10 cm wide, oblanceloate or obovate or oval or ovate, leaf margins entire or dentate, leaf apices acuminate or acute or obtuse, leaf bases cuneate or rounded. Leaf upper surface green, glabrous or glabrate. Leaf lower surface green, glabrous or glabrate or pubescent or with tufts in vein axils, villous. Leaf venation pinnate. Petioles (0.6–)1–2.5(–3.8) cm long, glabrous or pubescent, winged. Stipules absent.

Flowers. Flowering March or April or May or June. Inflorescences axillary, fascicles or heads or racemes or flowers solitary or simple umbels, flowers sessile or stalked. Flowers bisexual or unisexual or pistillate or staminate, epigynous. Perianth. Sepals 5 per flower. Petals 5 per flower, spreading or ascending, green or white, oblong or ovate, petal apices acute or rounded, caducous. Androecium. Stamens 5–12 per flower. Gynoecium. Ovaries inferior, pistils 1 per flower. Gynoecium syncarpous, 2 carpels per flower, styles 1 per pistil, styles 1.5–3.5 mm long, placentation apical. Other floral features. Hypanthia present.

Fruits. Fruits drupes, (0.7–)1–1.5 cm long, black or blue, fruit maturation 1 years.

Habitat. Habitat bogs and seepages or bottomland forests or disturbed and weedy areas or dry-mesic upland forests or mesic upland forests or mixed forest edges or suburban plantings.

Special Diagnostic Characters. Leaves often crowded at the ends of branchlets; branches perpendicular to the trunk.

Cite this publication as: ‘Stephen M. Seiberling, Alan S. Weakley, and Peter S. White (2005 onwards). Common Trees of the North Carolina Piedmont: Identification, Descriptions, Illustrations, and Glossary. Version: March 7, 2006. <>’.

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