BLACK TUPELO (*)

Nyssa sylvatica

Black Tupelo, Nyssa sylvatica also know as gum tree takes it name Nyssa from the Greek water fairy and sylvatica from its fondness for swamps. It is a keystone tree which supports 35 species of butterflies. Its Tupelo honey is a delicacy and loved by bees, birds and mammals.

An attractive ornamental shade tree with a dense, conical or sometimes flat-topped crown, it ads many slender, nearly horizontal branches It is a hardwood tree growing 30-60 ft. or taller.  A bottle-shaped trunk forms if grown in shallow standing water.

Smooth, waxy, dark-green summer foliage changes to fluorescent yellow, orange, scarlet and purple in fall. (Trees in warmer climates may not be as colorful.) Berries are small and blue. This species tolerates drier soils than Nyssa aquatica, but also tolerates poor drainageThe black tupelo has a long taproot, making it nearly impossible to move once the tree is established.  Female trees need a male pollinator to set fruit.

Cherokees used various parts of black gum to treat parasitic worms, diarrhea, pulmonary tuberculosis, and gunshot wounds. The inner bark was used to induce vomiting, while an infusion of bark was used during childbirth.

SPECS: Native Name: Algonquin; Genus: Nyssa ; Species: Sylvatica; Plant Type: Tree; Life Cycle: Perennial; Sun Exposure: Full Sun, Part Sun, Part Shade; Soil Moisture: Medium Wet, Mesic (middle); Height: 30′ — 60′; Spread: 30′; Plant Spacing: 30′ — 50′; Bloom Time: April — June; Bloom Color: Brown, Green, Orange, Purple, Yellow; Advantages: Adapted to fire, Birds, Pollinators, Showy; USDA Zone: 4 — 9; Attracts: Beneficial insects, Bumblebees, Butterflies, Carpenter bees, Caterpillars, Honey bees, Long-tongued bees, Small black bees, Songbirds, Sweat bees; Tolerant: Drought, Dry soils, Flooding, Salt;