Nyssa aquatica L.
  • ALTERNATE COMMON NAME: water tupelo
  • LEAVES: alternate, simple, deciduous; blades 5-12” long, narrow elliptic, margins entire or with one to few coarse dentate teeth; lower surface silvery
  • FLOWER: imperfect (or perfect), plants monoecious (or polygamous); staminate flowers in a headlike clusters; pistillate/bisexual flowers solitary, subtended by 2-several unequal bracts; flowering in early spring before leaves emerge
  • FRUIT: dark blue or purple drupe to 1” long; pedicels much longer than drupes; maturing in summer, water disseminated
  • TWIGS: moderately stout, reddish brown, glabrous or sparsely pubescent, leaf scars rounded to heart-shaped with 3 conspicuous bundle scars; pith diaphragmed
  • BARK: grayish brown to brown, furrowed with longitudinal scaly ridge
  • FORM: large tree with swollen buttressed bases
  • HABITAT: swamps, floodplain lakes, lake shores
  • WETLAND DESIGNATION: Obligate Wetland (OBL): Almost always occurs in wetlands of the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Plain Region
  • RANGE: Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plains  [USGS Map]
  • USES: wood cannot be split due to interlocking grain; wood used for furniture, tools, pulp, veneer for plywood; butt logs traditionally used to carve duck decoys, which can be carved when green and soft, and then be allowed to dry without cracking; good honey tree
  • WILDLIFE: deer browse lowers stems and leaves; fruit eaten by bears, raccoons, quail, turkey, wood ducks, and songbirds
  • Best Recognition Features:
    1. large tree of swamps and lakes usually with swollen buttressed bases
    2. large simple leaves often with a few irregular marginal teeth; undersurfaces silvery
    3. fruit a large blue-purple drupe with pedicels longer than drupes; drupes can be seen floating in water in swamps