Black Gum ‘Wildfire’

The ‘Wildfire’ Black Gum (Nyssa sylvatica ‘Wildfire’) is an eye-catching cultivar of the native black gum or tupelo tree, celebrated for its unique foliage that changes colors dramatically with the seasons. This tree offers remarkable ornamental value through its vibrant red spring foliage, glossy green summer leaves, and spectacular autumn colors.

See below for some key features and information.

  • Height and Spread: The ‘Wildfire’ Black Gum typically reaches about 30 to 50 feet in height with a spread of 20 to 30 feet, featuring a strong, pyramidal growth habit in its youth that becomes more rounded as it matures.
  • Leaves: This cultivar is notable for its striking foliage. New growth emerges as a bright red in spring, gradually turning to a rich green as the season progresses. In the fall, the leaves transform again into vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow, making it one of the most visually appealing trees for fall color.
  • Flowers: It produces inconspicuous greenish-white flowers in late spring, which are followed by small, blue-black fruits. While the flowers are not particularly showy, they are valuable for pollinators.
  • Fruit: The small fruits are favored by birds and wildlife, adding ecological value to the landscape.
  • Growth Habit: ‘Wildfire’ is praised for its uniform growth pattern and the ability to maintain a central leader with little need for pruning.
Habitat and Cultivation
  • Native Range and Adaptability: As a cultivar of Nyssa sylvatica, ‘Wildfire’ is well-suited to a variety of landscapes within its native range across eastern North America. It thrives in USDA zones 4 through 9 and is adaptable to a range of soil and environmental conditions.
  • Soil and Sunlight: Prefers moist, well-drained, acidic soils but shows a good tolerance for both wet and somewhat dry conditions. ‘Wildfire’ performs best in full sun to partial shade, with the most vibrant leaf coloration occurring in sunnier locations.
  • Watering: It requires regular watering, particularly during dry spells and in the first few years after planting to establish a deep and extensive root system. Once established, the tree is relatively drought-tolerant.
Care and Maintenance
  • Pruning: Minimal pruning is required, primarily to remove any dead or diseased wood. Pruning is best done in late winter or early spring before the onset of new growth.
Landscaping Use
  • With its stunning seasonal foliage changes and graceful habit, the ‘Wildfire’ Black Gum is an excellent selection for a specimen tree or for use in naturalized areas, parks, and residential landscapes.
  • Its ecological benefits, including attracting pollinators and providing food for wildlife, along with its adaptability to various soils and resistance to pests and diseases, make it a valuable addition to diverse landscaping projects.


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