swamp blackgum
Nyssa biflora Walter
  • ALTERNATE COMMON NAME: swamp tupelo
  • LEAVES: alternate, simple, deciduous; 1.5-3" long by 0.7-1.5” wide, thick, shiny, smooth; variably shaped - broadly lanceolate to obovate to elliptical; margins smooth or sometimes with one or a few dentate teeth distally
  • FLOWER: unisexual and bisexual, plants monoecious; male flowers inconspicuous, born in loose racemes; female/bisexual flowers usually a bracted pair at the terminus of a long axillary stalk; flowering in spring when leaves have almost fully emerged
  • FRUIT: ellipsoid drupe to ca. 0.4” long, blackish when mature; pit with several low rounded longitudinal ribs
  • TWIGS: slender, grayish brown, pith diaphragmed
  • BARK: light gray, irregularly furrowed and ridged
  • FORM: medium sized tree 60-100’ tall, bases often buttressed on larger trees, proximal branches spreading to slightly drooping
  • HABITAT: baygalls, isolated ponds on flatwoods (“gum ponds”), in and along channels of blackwater streams; also a component of vast coastal cypress-tupelo swamps
  • WETLAND DESIGNATION: Obligate Wetland (OBL): Almost always occurs in wetlands of the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Plain Region
  • RANGE: southeastern US, mainly on Gulf and Atlantic Coastal Plains
    [US County Range Map]  [Flora of North America Range Map]
  • USES: wood has interlocking grain and cannot be split, used for furniture, tools, pulp, veneer for plywood; ornamental; honey
  • WILDLIFE: seed eaten by wildlife (bear, raccoons, wood ducks, quail, turkey, songbirds), browsed by whitetail deer; cavities used for nesting and denning by various birds and mammals
  • Best Recognition Features:
    1. tree of baygalls, seepage swamps, and coastal swamps; base swollen and buttressed
    2. proximal branches spreading (at 90 degree angles to trunk) to slightly drooping
    3. eaves relatively small, thick, coriaceous, margins mostly entire
    4. fruit a blackish drupe occurring in pairs terminating axillary stalks