Question from Joanne in SC

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You identified a black gum tree for me last week. The reason I think it is dying is because the bark on the lower part was damaged by the builder. See pictures.
I took a picture of another tree that is healthy. Would this also be black gum? The leaves are definitely alternate, but not so sure the edges are smooth.
The black gum you identified for me definitely had whorled leaves, hence I thought the leaves were opposite.
I certainly appreciate your help. I have been striking out on identifying the trees in my wooded area by myself. And I have several tree books!

Hi Joanne,

the picture of the damaged tree does seem to be black gum. It can recover from this injury, most likely without special care. I cannot show the other two pictures that you sent, but the second, with reddish leaves is also a black gum, and the third with tiny toothed edges to the leaf is a sourwood, Oxydendrum arboreum.  Black gum does not have these tiny serrrations on the leaf margin.

I hope this helps.


Steve Hill, Botanist, SCNPS

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