Like any single woman in Manhattan, I have been looking for a great specimen of black tupelo, or Blackgum, or Nyssa sylvatica for years and years.
Finally, last Saturday, I stumbled across it in Central Park's Ramble.
Black Tupelo is identifiable by its simple leaves with entire margins. The branches protrude from the trunk at 90 degree angles when the tree is young, but as it gets older, it has a pendulous and sprawling habit.
Another way to spot it -- if you aren't sure you're looking at blackgum, is to check out the telltale three dots above the bud scar.
Black Tupelo is a favorite tree of mine -- and I am not alone in my unconditional adoration. Dirr raves about this tree and its ability to exhibit the most brilliant and consistent fall color.
Really: what a beauty, eh?
Nyssa is rarely seen in parks or sidewalks as it's not the most low-maintenance tree. It has a tap root so it doesn't like to be transplanted at larger sizes and prefers well-drained soils. And more so, I think it would be all wrong in such a location -- its allure is partly due to the way it can stop you in your tracks in a natural location. And it certainly needs some room so it can stretch out enough to really show off.
Nyssa sylvatica literally means 'water nymph of the forest.' Nyssa is Greek for 'water nymph'; sylvatica means 'of the forest.' The word 'tupelo' is derivative of the native American term, ito opilwa, which means 'swamp tree.'
Now then: go out and vote!!