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Black Gum Tree Pros and Cons – 13 Facts You Need to Know

The advantages and cons of planting certain tree species in various situations are often questioned to me as a lover of trees and nature. The black gum tree is one of these trees that is commonly mentioned in these chats. This deciduous tree, often referred to as the tupelo tree, is a native of North America and has a number of benefits and disadvantages to consider before planting. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the Black Gum Tree Pros and Cons when planting in your yard.

Pros Cons
Ornamental Value with Intense Fall Color Messy Fruit
Adaptable to Wet Soils Requires Ample Space for Roots
Low-Maintenance Hard to Find in Nurseries
Long Lifespan (Over 650 years) Not Suitable for High Foot Traffic Areas
Provides Fruit that Birds and Squirrels Enjoy Slow Growth Rate (Only Around 1 to 2 Feet per Year)
Used in Furniture and as a Shade Tree
Non-Toxic to Pets
Attracts Deer

Pro: Ornamental Value with Intense Fall Color

The aesthetic value of the black gum tree is one of its most appealing qualities. The tree is a great option for adding a splash of color to your yard because of its spectacular fall hues, which span from vivid red to orange and yellow. Location, temperature, and soil characteristics all affect how colorful the leaves are.

The black gum tree is an excellent specimen plant due to its elegant shape and form, as well as its stunning fall leaves. When the tree is young, it has a pyramidal form, and as it gets older, it takes on an oval shape. Due to its design, the tree may stand out and become the center of attention in your yard.

Pro: Adaptable to Wet Soils

The capacity of the black gum tree to adapt to moist soils is another benefit. The black gum tree can flourish in low-lying places or close to water sources unlike many other tree species. The tree is a great option for areas with significant rainfall since its root structure can withstand brief floods.

Additionally, the black gum tree may thrive in a range of soil conditions, including loamy, acidic, and clay soils. To guarantee proper development, you must avoid planting it in compacted or poorly drained soil since it favors that kind of soil.

Pro: Low-Maintenance

Given its modest maintenance requirements, the black gum tree is a great option for anyone who want a tree in their yard but lack the time or energy to give it regular care. The tree doesn’t need regular fertilizer or pruning and is comparatively pest-resistant.

However, to promote good development throughout the first few years of the tree’s existence, constant watering and sporadic trimming may be required. The shallow root structure of the black gum tree also prevents it from competing with other plants and trees for water and nutrients. It is an excellent companion plant for other trees and shrubs in your yard because of this characteristic.

Pro: Long Lifespan (Over 650 Years)

In the correct circumstances, the black gum tree may live for more than 700 years, making it one of the longest-living trees in North America[3]. It may also be called a legacy tree because of its longevity, making it a wise investment for future generations.

It’s crucial to plant the black gum tree in a good area with the proper soil, sunshine, and moisture conditions if you want it to thrive as long as possible. The longevity of the tree may also be increased with regular trimming and upkeep.

Pro: Provides Fruit That Birds and Squirrels Enjoy

Numerous bird and squirrel species like the tiny, blue-black fruit that the black gum tree provides. In late summer or early fall, the fruit ripens and falls to the ground, where it is devoured by animals.

The black gum tree’s fruit may be used to produce jams, jellies, and pies and is also suitable for human consumption. However, because of its tiny size and high placement on the tree, the fruit might be difficult to harvest.

Pro: Used in Furniture and as a Shade Tree

The wood of the black gum tree is sturdy, long-lasting, and resistant to rot, making it a great material for flooring and furniture. Because of its thin texture, the wood is simple to carve and shape into various forms. Additionally, veneers, paneling, and cabinets are made from the tree’s wood.

The black gum tree is well-liked as a shade tree in addition to being used in furniture. It’s a great place to unwind or host visitors in the summer because of its wide canopy, which offers plenty of shade. By keeping your house cooler and decreasing the need for air conditioning, its shadow also helps redu ce energy expenses.

Pro: Non-Toxic to Pets

Before planting a tree species in your yard, it’s important for pet owners to consider the toxicity of the species. The good news is that pet owners may safely choose the black gum tree since it is non-toxic to animals.

The fruit of the tree is also safe for dogs to eat and does not affect them when ingested. Monitoring your dogs’ fruit diet is crucial since too much might disturb their digestive systems.

Pro: Attracts Deer

Planting a Black Gum Tree in Your Yard May Draw Deer to Your Property If You Enjoy Wildlife Watching. The tree is a great option for anyone interested in nature since deer are known to feed on its leaves and fruit.

Before planting a black gum tree, you should take this into consideration if you don’t want deer to roam freely around your yard. To keep deer out of your yard, you may need to take further steps like adding fence or repellents.

Black Gum Tree Pros and Cons

Con: Messy Fruit

The fruit of the black gum tree may be untidy for people even if it may be appealing to animals. If you have a big tree or several of trees in your yard, it might be challenging to pick up the fruit that falls to the ground. If the fruit is not cleaned up right once, it may also attract unwelcome creatures like flies or rats.

You may put the black gum tree away from busy places like sidewalks or driveways to reduce the mess. The fruit may also be gathered and disposed of in your compost or yard trash bin using a leaf blower or rake.

Con: Requires Ample Space for Roots

Black gum trees have large, deep root systems that need room to spread out [2]. Because the tree’s roots may extend up to three times broader than its canopy, planting it in tiny yards or other spaces may not be a good idea.

A black gum tree planted in a small yard, close to a driveway or sidewalk may potentially cause foundation or pavement damage. The pavement may rise or fracture due to the tree’s roots, posing a trip risk or necessitating expensive repairs.

Con: Hard to Find in Nurseries

Black gum trees are more difficult to locate since they are less frequent in nurseries than other kinds. Black gum trees are, however, available in many nurseries and may even be ordered online.

Ask the nursery to order a black gum tree specifically for you if you are having problems locating one there. For guidance on where to locate a black gum tree in your region, you may also speak with a nearby arborist or tree specialist.

Con: Not Suitable for High Foot Traffic Areas

Planting black gum trees next to locations with a lot of foot activity, such sidewalks or driveways, may be challenging due to their root systems. The roots might lead to trip hazards or pavement fissures, making it dangerous for both automobiles and pedestrians.

Consult a qualified arborist or landscaper before planting a black gum tree near a busy area. They may provide advice on where to place plantings in an appropriate area and how to avoid damaging foundations or paving.

Con: Slow Growth Rate (Only Around 1 to 2 Feet per Year)

Since black gum trees develop slowly[1], it can take the tree a long time to attain its full potential. For those looking for a tree that would soon provide shade or seclusion, the typical annual growth rate of black gum trees is just 1 to 2 feet, which might be discouraging.

It’s crucial to plant your black gum tree in a good area with the ideal soil, sunshine, and moisture conditions if you want it to develop at a healthy pace. Regular fertilization and irrigation may also support strong development.

How to Care for Black Gum Trees

It’s critical to understand correct maintenance procedures. Here are some pointers for maintaining black gum trees:

Sunlight and Soil Requirements

The optimal conditions for growing black gum trees are full sun to partial shade, acidic, medium to moist, well-drained soils. They are a fantastic option for low-lying regions of the landscape since they are designed to flourish in moist soils. They can even grow organically in arid locations and can withstand mild drought.

Fertilizing and Watering

You should irrigate the soil twice a week while a black gum tree is young. It will expand its root system as it gets bigger, enabling it to withstand dry spells. Feed the tree every year with a slow-release granular fertilizer in the fall. For every inch of trunk diameter, use 2 cups of fertilizer.


If you want a black gum tree with a lovely, even form, you can trim it. Prior to the onset of new growth, the tree should be pruned in late winter or early spring. Branches that are crossing or rubbing against one another should be thinned out, and those that are dead, diseased, or broken should be removed.

Control of Pests and Disease

Although black gum trees are often resistant to pests and diseases, some problems may still damage them. The tree may get infected with insects like scale and aphids as well as diseases like leaf spot and canker. Watch for any indications of a pest problem or a sickness and respond right away.

How To Choose The Right Tree

It’s crucial to make the perfect choice when selecting a tree for your yard or property, so don’t skimp on this step. In addition to enhancing the aesthetics of your landscape, trees also provide shade, enhance the quality of the air, and raise the value of your home. Planting the incorrect tree in the incorrect location, however, may have unfavorable cons, such as harm to buildings, walkways, and roads, or interference with electricity lines. The following advice and considerations may help you choose the ideal tree:

  • Think about your hardiness zone: When trees are planted in the proper location, they flourish. To learn which trees may be planted in your location, determine your hardiness zone. Consult the Arbor Day Foundation or your neighborhood nursery to learn how to accomplish this.
  • Sizing out the growth area is important before selecting a tree. Make sure the tree won’t interfere with structures, walkways, or power lines by taking into account the height and spread it will have at maturity. Be mindful of the area required for the tree’s roots to expand.
  • Soil conditions: When selecting a tree, homeowners should take the soil into consideration. Different soil types and pH levels are preferred by various trees. Make sure the soil has good drainage since excessive wetness might cause root rot.
  • Consider the purpose that the tree will serve. Do you want visual appeal, solitude, or shade? Pick a tree that can meet your demands.
  • Match the tree’s growth environment to the circumstances. Take into account how much sun, wind, and moisture the tree will experience. Make sure it is appropriate for your climate and soil.
  • Think about outdoor living spaces: Consider how the tree will affect outdoor living spaces. Does it provide the desired shade or impede views? Will it produce debris like fruit or leaves that has to be cleaned up?
  • Maintenance: Take into account how much upkeep the tree will need. Does it need frequent watering or pruning? Will it attract bugs or illnesses?

You may choose the ideal tree for your home that will improve its attractiveness and provide benefits for many years by taking these pros and cons into account. Making the ideal decision for your landscape also benefits from seeking advice from a nearby arborist or nursery.

Wildfire Black Gum tree

The Wildfire Black Gum tree, sometimes called Nyssa sylvatica ‘Wildfire,’ is a deciduous tree with an extraordinary and beautiful pyramidal form. It is a rapidly expanding tree that may grow as tall as 60 feet and as wide as 30 feet. For gardeners seeking a striking and low-maintenance addition to their landscape, this tree is a popular option.

Its captivating variety of hues is one of the Wildfire Black Gum tree’s most alluring qualities. This tree’s leaves may be red, orange, or even purple, all on the same tree. The leaves change color throughout the year, going from a vibrant green in the early spring to a dark green in the summer, and then in the fall, they put on a spectacular show of red, purple, gold, and orange. This tree is a sight to see all through the growing season since the new growth is likewise red.

Several nurseries, including fast-growing-trees.com, Oakland Nurseries, Nature Hills Nursery, Brighter Blooms, and New Blooms Nursery, among others, sell the Wildfire Black Gum tree for sale. Customers may choose from a variety of sizes and container choices, and some nurseries offer free shipping and 30-day returns. Prices vary from $25.99 for a 3-4 foot tree from TN Nursery to $574.50 for a BAG 2-2.5″ CAL tree from lfplantoutlet.com.

It is a native tree that thrives in consistently moist soils; it prefers full sun to partial shade; it can grow in a variety of soil types, including clay, loam, and sand; and it generally doesn’t need much pruning. Black Gum trees are relatively low-maintenance and their average texture blends well into the landscape.

Black gum tree lifespan

One of the East’s most durable trees, the black gum tree has a lifetime that may reach 700 years.

The black gum tree is the longest-living non-clonal flowering plant in eastern North America, with a lifespan that can range from 150-300 years to over 650 years, according to various sources. This species of hardwood is found to thrive in the eastern United States, growing at very low densities, and capable of achieving ages of over 650 years. It grows at a slow rate, gaining only 1 to 2 feet per year. It prefers moist soil and does best in full sun to partial shade

The small blue-black fruit that the black gum tree produces are a valuable food source for wildlife, including songbirds, squirrels, and deer, and are produced inconspicuously by the tree’s inconspicuous flowers in late summer and early fall.

The black gum tree has a long history of use in traditional medicine, and some parts of the tree have been used to treat fever, coughs, and other ailments. However, the tree is not frequently used for lumber because it is a relatively small tree and has a tendency to grow crooked. However, it is occasionally used for furniture, flooring, and interior trim.

Where do you buy Black gum tree

Numerous nurseries and garden stores sell Black Gum trees. Black Gum trees are sold by several internet merchants, who may delivery them to your area. You may go online for businesses that specialize in selling trees and plants to find local nurseries and garden stores in your region that offer Black Gum trees. Make that your tree is a healthy, high-quality plant and that you get it from a dependable vendor. When selecting the best Black Gum tree for your landscaping, you should also consider pros and cons including the tree’s mature size and growth pace, as well as your local climate and soil conditions.

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FAQ’s about Black Gum Tree Pros and Cons

Are black gum tree roots invasive?

Black gum tree roots are not considered to be invasive. They tend to grow shallowly and spread outwards rather than deep into the soil. However, it is still essential to plant black gum trees away from structures and hardscapes, as the shallow roots can cause damage over time.

Do black gum trees have gumballs?

No, black gum trees do not produce gumballs. This is a common misconception, as the sweet gum tree, which is often confused with the black gum, does produce these spiky, ball-shaped fruits.

Are black gum berries edible?

Yes, black gum berries are edible, but they are not commonly consumed by humans. The berries have a slightly astringent taste and are a favorite food source for many species of birds.

What is black gum used for?

Black gum wood is known for its strength, durability, and attractive grain patterns. It has been used for a range of applications, including furniture, flooring, veneer, and tool handles. The tree's bark and leaves also have medicinal properties and have been used in traditional herbal remedies.

What’s the difference between black gum trees and sweet gum trees?

While black gum and sweet gum trees are often confused with each other, they are two different species. Black gum trees have a more narrow, upright growth habit and tend to have smoother bark. Sweet gum trees, on the other hand, have a more pyramidal shape and produce the spiky gumballs mentioned earlier.

Is black gum a good street tree?

Yes, black gum trees can be a good choice for a street tree, as they are tolerant of a range of soil types and environmental conditions. However, it is essential to keep in mind the tree's shallow root system and the potential for branch breakage during severe weather conditions. Regular pruning and maintenance are necessary to ensure the tree's safety and longevity.


I hope you find this article “Black Gum Tree Pros and Cons” helpful. Many homeowners find the tree to be an appealing option due to its aesthetic value, capacity to grow in damp soils, minimal care requirements, and long lifetime. The tree also attracts deer and produces fruit that is tasty to animals and non-toxic to pets.

The black gum tree does have some disadvantages, too, such messy fruit, a need for plenty of area for roots, and a sluggish rate of development. It may also be difficult to locate in nurseries and is not recommended for places with heavy foot traffic.

Consider the size, location, and soil conditions of your yard before planting a black gum tree there. You should also think about your own preferences and yard-related objectives. Your black gum tree may flourish and give benefits for many years with the right planning, routine maintenance, and care.

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