Floridata Plant Encyclopedia

A Floridata Plant Profile 72 Nyssa sylvatica

Common Names: blackgum, tupelo, pepperidge Family: Nyssaceae (tupelo Family)

tupelo tree


This is a large tree commonly found in swampy areas and grows to 60'-80' in height, with a straight trunk and rough grayish bark. It's narrow crown is often rounded if grown in the open. Blackgum has deciduous, alternate, glossy green leaves 2"-5" long. The fruits are oval, dark blue drupes about ½" long, with a large ribbed pit.


It can be found growing both on upland sites and on moist, rich soil near swamps and stream edges. It is native to the eastern United States, from southern Maine to southwestern Wisconsin, south to Florida, and west to eastern Texas.


Light: Full sun to partial shade. Moisture: Moist, well drained. Hardiness: USDA Zones 5 - 9. Propagation: Seeds.


Used as a landscape specimen and shade tree. For many years, blackgum was regarded as a weed tree by the forest products trade. It is now commonly used to make plywood, boxes, pulp, cooperage, woodenware, handles and other items. Bee keepers seek out the tupelos while in bloom, because almost everyone in the southern United States considers tupelo honey particularly flavorful.


With glossy green foliage turning to bright colors in the fall, blackgum makes a fine addition to any landscape.

Steve Christman 06/20/97

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Nyssa species profiled on Floridata:

Nyssa sylvatica

( blackgum, tupelo, pepperidge )

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