The Grover Cleveland Park Conservancy did extensive research before deciding on the Black Gum tree (Nyssa sylvatica). Nyssa sylvatica, commonly known as black tupelo, tupelo, or blackgum, is a medium-sized deciduous tree native to eastern North America from New England and southern Ontario south to central Florida and eastern Texas, as well as Mexico. These trees grow to 66–82 ft tall, with a trunk diameter of 20–39 inches. These trees typically have a straight trunk with the branches extending outward at right angles. The foliage turns purple in autumn, eventually becoming an intense bright scarlet. The flowers are very small, in greenish-white in clusters at the top of a long stalk and a rich source or nectar for bees. The fruit is a black-blue, ovoid stone fruit, about 10 mm long with a thin, oily, bitter-to-sour tasting flesh and very popular with small bird species. There are from one to three fruits together on a long slender stalk. They are a valuable energy food for birds, especially the American robin.
The Grover Cleveland Park Conservancy hired the NJ Tree Foundation to assist us with planting the trees. The NJ Tree Foundation is a state-wide non-profit organization dedicated to planting trees in NJ’s most under-served neighborhoods and also provides landscaping services to municipalities, schools, and corporations.