Nyssa sylvatica ‘Wildfire’ – Wildfire Black Gum Tree
Botanical Name: Nyssa sylvatica ‘Wildfire’
The Wildfire Black Gum (Nyssa sylvatica ‘Wildfire’) is a lovely and brightly colored cultivar of Nyssa sylvatica. It is a small to medium sized deciduous tree. The Wildfire Black Gum tree is pyramidal or conical in shape. This cultivar is smaller than the species and grows to a height of 40 feet with a spread of 25 feet. It puts on a beautiful display of fall color with reds, oranges, and purples. It can live for 70 years.
The new growth of the Wildfire Black Gum tree blazes with bright, shining red when it first emerges in the spring. The foliage then deepens to a rich, dark green. The leaves are 4-5 inches long and elliptical to obovate in shape. The margins can be finely toothed or entire.
The Black Gum species have a small number of perfect flowers, but primarily they have male and female flowers on separate trees. Thus, in order to produce fruit, a male tree must be planted near a female. The flowers bloom in May or June. They are white and inconspicuous but attract bees.
Long, dark fruits appear after the flowers. They are oval and half an inch in size. The fruits are very sour but edible – birds will feast on them.
The Wildfire Black Gum tree is fussy about growing conditions and prefers evenly moist, rich, acidic soils. If grown in alkaline soil, their leaves will develop chlorosis (yellowing). Unlike other Black Gum cultivars, it is intolerant of urban pollutants and therefore should not be used as a street tree. In order to thrive, it requires a fairly sheltered planting location.