Firestarter® Black Gum Tree

Growth Facts

Firestarter® Black Gum

Nyssa sylvatica 'JFS-red'

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Don’t call the fire department! Your heart will skip a beat every time you catch a glimpse of your Firestarter™ Tupelo Tree in fall, all lit up in blazing red foliage. Then you’ll remember that it’s supposed to look like it’s in flames. This tree’s five-alarm foliage rivals that of many Red Maples in fall, but Firestarter™ has a narrower, more upright shape than most Maples, making it useful where a Red Maple would grow too wide. Plant it within your mixed borders or out in the lawn. This tough, adaptable beauty even makes a stellar street tree!

Growth Facts

Recommended by Our Growers

The Story

The Tupelo Tree is undergoing a renaissance. Although it is native to much of the eastern U.S., only in recent years have many people begun to realize what a fantastic tree it is. What’s not to love? It’s easy to grow, tolerates wet or dry conditions, doesn’t have any major pest issues, and offers spectacular autumn color! Firestarter™ is a new Tupelo introduction that was selected at J. Frank Schmidt Nursery in Boring, Oregon, in 2005. The tree stood out from a large crop of seedlings with its upright habit, its particularly dark green summer foliage, and its vivid autumn color. It also turns color earlier in the fall than many other Tupelos.

The Details

Choose a site for your Firestarter™ Tupelo where it can live out a long, glorious life, because this legacy tree will enchant many generations to come. Tupelo is the longest-lived deciduous shade tree in the eastern U.S. In 2000, researchers found the oldest yet: a 679-year-old tree in New Hampshire!

How to Grow

Grow Firestarter™ Tupelo in full sun to bring out the richest coloration in its fall foliage. This tree will also do well in part shade, though its autumn color will be more subdued there. Firestarter™ is perfect for that low spot in your yard that stays soggy after a rain, and it tolerates some drought once established, too. Irrigate your tree with the Bower & Branch Elements™ Watering System and feed in the fall with a good balanced fertilizer like our Elements™ Organic Fertilizer to help it develop a strong root system. Pruning, though rarely necessary, should be accomplished in the fall. A leaf spot disease sometimes afflicts Tupelos, but it is no cause for alarm.

Size Guide

Size Guide Scale


Size: B

Size B

This graphic shows the approximate size and form of the Tree you are viewing.

Size B Trees:

8-10' tall. Grown in our #15 tree container. Stem caliper up to 1 1/2". Single stem tree from with full and proper branching structure.

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Firestarter® Black Gum Tree