Another black gum, perhaps as old as the Northwood tree, grows not far from my home. This morning a small group of us hiked in to stand beneath and gaze up at this black gum, a state champion big tree--the biggest black gum in New Hampshire. Its circumference is 132 inches; it reaches 89 feet in height (quite tall for a black gum); its crown stretches 58 feet across. The University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension manages the NH Big Tree Program and this black gum is now in the record book after it was discovered last year by a local tree buff.
Black gums are long-lived, with several traits that enable this longevity. They continue to grow year after year even in deep shade, if ever so slowly. Their wide lateral root system and horizontal branching keeps them upright even during major storms. If a strong wind blows, back gums will lose some top limbs, resulting in a gnarly looking crown. The bark of old trees is thick and deeply furrowed.
Here is the big black gum of Epping that we visited this morning.