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Nyssa Sylvatica

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Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Certain trees in the genus Nyssa are most often associated with wet areas, the generic name honors the Greek water nymph Nyssa. All their flowers, both male and female, are very attractive to bees. I found an article in the Asheville Citizens Times about one type, Nyssa sylvatica  var. sylvatica, that grows in the Blue Ridge Mountains (also way up the Eastern Coast and into Canada) mixed in with oaks and hickories and such. The article, which you should look up, Citizen Times, George Ellison, Nature Journal, "Why the blackgum tree has a hollow trunk," is fascinating. Gum trees are very susceptible to wind-dispersed fungi that cause the trunks and large branches to rot and become hollow. A hollow log was like a pipe to those living on the land and could be used for an incredible variety of purposes.

Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.