Quantcast Black Gum or Black Tupelo

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The heartwood is reddish-brown and occasionally variegated with streaks of darker color. The
pores are small and visible only with magnification. The growth rings are usually indistinct or in-
conspicuous. The rays are visible on the quartersawed surfaces. Red gum is obtained chiefly from
the heartwood of old mature trees and is in limited supply. Sap gum, obtained from the sapwood, is
readily available.
3.2.2.4 Black Gum or Black Tupelo.  Black tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica) grows in all
states east of the Mississippi River and as far west as central Texas. In the northern and eastern
parts of its range, it grows under a wide variety of conditions ranging from swamps to dry
mountain sides, but in the south it is largely confined to well-drained locations. The largest commer-
cial cuts of black tupelo lumber are made in the southeastern states.
A moderately heavy wood, black tupelo has an average weight of 35 pounds per cubic foot. It is
rated as hard, with a specific gravity of 0.50, and the heartwood is low to moderate in resistance to
decay. The wood is moderately weak when used as a beam or post, moderately limber, and
moderately high in ability to resist shock.
The heartwood is pale to moderately dark brownish-gray or dirty gray. The pores are very small, as
in sweetgum. The growth increments are generally inconspicuous to moderately distinct. The rays
are visible on the quartersawed surfaces, but show up less prominently against the background color
of the wood than the rays in sweetgum.
3.2.2.5 Water Tupelo, Tupelo Gum or Swamp Tupelo. This species group con-
sists of Nyssa sylvatica var. biflora commonly known as swamp tupelo or swamp black gum, and
Nyssa aquatia commonly known as water tupelo or tupelo gum.
Water tupelo is distributed in the coastal region from southeastern Virginia through the gulf states to
Texas and northward in the Mississippi River region to southern Illinois. Its best development is
found in the cypress swamps of Louisiana and southern Texas. This species group is typical of very
wet sites.
The wood of water tupelo and black gum (as discussed above) is similar and it may be sold as dis-
tinct species or in mixtures. However, swamp tupelo and water tupelo are usually somewhat softer,
lighter and more porous, with more crowded, slightly larger pores than black gum.
3.2.2.6 Mixed Hardwood Species.  Sometimes, hardwoods are mixed together at
the producer's discretion. This mixture may include low valued species unless specifically
eliminated by the specifier. The buyer and seller should have a written agreement as to what is and
is not acceptable regarding mixed hardwood species.
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