The leaves of the Black Gum are dark green and elliptical with entire margins. The veins are pinnate, and the leaves sometimes develop purple spots. The leaves turn a scarlet color and drop in the fall.
Twig and Bud Identification
The Black Gum’s twig turns a reddish-brown color in fall and winter. They often have curved spur shoots as well. The buds are ovate and turn dark brown in the winter. They have also have many scales.
The Black Gum has a grayish-brown bark with shallow furrows, and very old bark can develop thick blocky ridges.
The Black Gum has dark purple, oval drupes. Usually they have about a 1/2″ diameter, and the seed itself is ribbed. They ripen in late September and only appear on females.
The flowers of the Black Gum are greenish-white. The males flower in dense heads, and the females flower in sparse clusters.
Its leaves emerge as a dramatic red in the spring and fades to a green color throughout the summer. The wild type only has red coloration in the fall.
‘David Odom’ Identification
It has exceptional fall colors and has a more pyramidal shape compared to the wild type.