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 Nyssa subsp. var.  
Black tupelo foliage and immature fruit
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Cornaceae > Nyssa var. , L.

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The tupelos (sg. pronounced /ˈtuːpɨloʊ/), or pepperidge trees, genus Nyssa (pronounced /ˈnɪsə/),[1] are a small genus of about 9 to 11 species of trees with alternate, simple leaves. Most are highly tolerant of wet soils and flooding, some needing to grow in such environments. Five of the species are native to eastern North America from the extreme south of Canada south to eastern Mexico; the others to east and south Asia from China south to Malaysia and west to the Himalaya. A related genus, Davidia, the Dove tree, occurs in China.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Nyssa (name of a water nvmph; these trees grow in swamps). Nyssaceae, formerly included in Cornaceae. Tupelo. Pepperidge. Sour Gum. Ornamental trees planted chiefly for their handsome foliage and brilliant autumnal tints.

Deciduous: Lvs. alternate, petioled, entire or rarely remotely toothed, stipulate: fls. polygamo-dioecious, minute, greenish white, in slender peduncled clusters; the staminate fls. slender-pedicelled in many-fld. clusters; calyx cup-shaped, 6-toothed; petals 5, imbricate, inserted on the margin of the conspicuous disk; stamens 5, exserted; ovary 0; pistillate fls. sessile, 1 or 2, or in few-fld. clusters; calyx-tube campanulate, 5- toothed, petals small; stamens 5-10, short, anthers often sterile; ovary 1-2-celled; style slender, recurved: fr. an oblong drupe, usually 1-seeded, with a bony, ridged or winged stone.—Five species in N. Amer. and 2 in Asia.

The tupelos are bold and picturesque trees with medium-sized or rather large, generally obovate or oblong lustrous leaves, insignificant greenish white flowers in slender-stalked clusters or solitary, and conspicuous, blue, red or purple oblong solitary or paired fruits. They are chiefly valued for the flaming scarlet of their autumn foliage and for the distinctness of their winter aspect. N. sylvatica is hardy North, while the other species are tenderer. They grow in swamps and are usually 40 to 60 feet high, attaining a maximum of 100 feet. Old specimens often have a melancholy appearance by reason of the drooping habit of the lower limbs. The upper branches of a tupelo are often twiggy, crooked or "kinky." Tupelos are hard to transplant from the wild, even when heavily pruned, because they have remarkably long roots with few rootlets. Nursery- grown trees that have been frequently transplanted are preferable. Propagation is by seeds sown at once or stratified; if allowed to become dry, they do not germinate until the second year; sometimes increased by layers which, however, root slowly.

N. sinensis, Oliver. Tree, to 40 ft.: branchlets pubescent: Lvs. elliptic, dull dark green above, light green and pubescent on the veins beneath, 4-6 in. long: pistillate fls. few, on slender stalk: fr oblong, bluish, ½ in. long. Cent. China. H.I. 20:1964.—Has proved hardy in S. England.

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.



Pests and diseases


Nyssa aquatica - Water Tupelo
Nyssa biflora - Swamp Tupelo
Nyssa javanica - Indonesian Tupelo
Nyssa leptophylla - Hunan Tupelo
Nyssa ogeche - Ogeechee Tupelo
Nyssa sinensis - Chinese Tupelo
Nyssa sylvatica - Black Tupelo
Nyssa ursina - Bear Tupelo
Nyssa yunnanensis - Yunnan Tupelo



  1. Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607

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