Plant Features: Tupelo Gum (Nyssa aquatica)

Tupelo Gum also known as water tupelo, swamp tupelo grow to about 90 feet tall. The bases of Tupelo Gum trees are swollen or flared outward but with out flutes like a cypress tree. This give the tupelo gum tree a wider base which give it more stability in the swamps and lowland forests. The crown is flattened and spreading usually looking ratty.

Tupelo Gum grows in swamps and floodplains in the south, where the soils are at least periodically flooded. Tupelo Gum occurs along the coastal southeastern up to the southern tip of Illinois.

Tupelo Gum trees can live to be 1000 years old!

Although Tupelo Gum grows well in flooded areas to get seeds to germinate they must have dry conditions. This usually occurs in mid or late summer. After the seeds germinate, the seedlings develop best in saturated soils that are not stagnant, but covered by shallow water. They grow best in full sunlight, and mature trees are intolerant of shade.

Tupelo Gum are often propogated after logging by the coppice method. This envolves leaving the stumps to sends up sprouts to regenerate the forest.

Tupelo gum bark is dark brown or dark gray thin and scaly.

The twigs are stout and reddish brown. The buds are small, rounded, and smooth. The leaves are alternate, simple, and somewhat ovate, tapering to a point at the tip. They are usually rounded at the base and are up to 8 inches. Most have smooth edges sometimes a few coarse teeth. They leaves are dark green and and paler with fine hairs beneath.

Individual Tupelo gum trees are either male or female. The oblong, fleshy fruits ripen in September and are purple and up to an inch long.

Wood ducks, squirrels, raccoon, and deer will eat the fruits.