Genus Nyssa, L. (Sour Gum)

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Leaves - simple; alternate; edge entire. Outline - oval or reverse egg-shape. Apex - pointed. Base - pointed. Leaf/Stem - slightly hairy when young. Leaf - two to five inches long; usually about half as broad; dark green and very shining above, especially when old; light green and shining below; thick, tough, and firm. Middle rib slightly hairy when young; side ribs rather indistinct and curved. Bark - grayish and often broken into short sections. Fertile Flowers - small, in clusters of three to eight on slender stems. April, May. Fruit - nearly one half inch long; bluish-black when ripe; egg-shape or oval; acid and rather bitter until “frosted.” Stone - oval, somewhat pointed at each end, slightly flattened, and with three or four blunt ridges on each side. September. Found - from Southern Maine to Michigan, and southward to Florida and Texas. General Information - A tree twenty to forty feet high (larger southward), with flat, horizontal branches. The wood, even in short lengths, is very difficult of cleavage, and so is well fitted for beetles, hubs of wheels, pulleys, etc. Its leaves are the first to ripen in the fall, changing (sometimes as early as August) to a bright crimson. In the South, opossums climb the tree in search of its fruit and are immortalized in stories.


Trees: Q-S


Newhall, Charles S. The Trees of North-Eastern America (New York: The Knickerbocker Press, 1900) 15


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