Nyssa sylvatica
  • ALTERNATE COMMON NAME: black tupelo
  • LEAVES: alternate, simple, deciduous; 2-6” long, shiny, smooth; variable shaped - broadly lanceolate to obovate to elliptical; margins smooth or irregularly toothed; thin
  • FLOWER: greenish, long peduncles, axillary cluster; flowers before leaves fully out
  • FRUIT: plum like, 1/2 inch long, black; pit with 10-12 indistinct ribs; 2 to 5 fruit per stalk
  • TWIGS: diaphragmed (sections filled), white; numerous pale lenticels; lateral buds sharp pointed and divergent; often horizontal
  • BARK: deep furrows and ridges; alligator hide older; small rectangular plates when young (may confuse with persimmon)
  • FORM: large tree, 4 ft dbh, 90 to 100 ft; no butt swell on upland areas, butt swell in wetter areas; branches 90° (perpendicular) to trunk
  • HABITAT: dry to moist sites; absent in swamps
  • WETLAND DESIGNATION: Facultative (FAC): Occurs in wetlands or non-wetlands of the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Plain Region
  • RANGE: eastern US
  • USES: seed eaten by wildlife (bear, raccoons, woodducks, quail, turkey, songbirds); deer browse; wood interlocking grain - can’t be split, furniture, tools, pulp, veneer for plywood; ornamentals; honey
  • Best Recognition Features:
    1. twig with diaphragmed pith
    2. fruit 2 to 5 per stalk, slight ribs on pit
    3. furrowed bark
    4. not in swamps
    5. branches 90° (perpendicular)to trunk
    6. distinct point on leaf tip

    NOTES: Nyssa biflora (swamp tupelo) - leaves narrower and shorter, flowers appear after leaves are out; flowers and fruit usually only in pairs; ribs on seed are very prominent