Alphabetical Plant Listing

Nyssa aquatica (Water Tupelo)

Water Tupelo, Blackgum, Sourgum, Cotton Gum, Swamp Tupelo, Water Gum, Nyssa uniflora


Slow-growing and long-lived, Nyssa aquatica (Water Tupelo) is a large aquatic tree with a swollen base that tapers to a long, clear bole and a narrow, open crown of spreading branches. Its ovate leaves, 4-8 in. long (10-20 cm), are shiny dark green above, paler and pubescent underneath. They turn yellow in the fall. Flared at the base, its trunk develops knobby growths when grown in waterlogged soils. The dark brown or dark gray bark splits into finely scaled ridges. Water Tupelo is dioecious, with separate male and female trees. In spring, it produces greenish-white flowers in clusters (male flowers) and solitary (females flowers). While not showy, they are a rich source of nectar for bees. Water Tupelo is a favored honey tree. The blossoms are followed by oblong dark purple fruits with conspicuous pale dots. The fruits are consumed by wood ducks, several other types of birds, and by squirrels, raccoons, and deer. Water Tupelo occurs naturally in the bottomlands, floodplains, and swamps of southern Virginia, south to northwest Florida, west to southeastern Texas, and north through the Mississippi River Valley. Since it is one of the few species that can survive extended periods of inundation, it is favored for planting in very wet sites. A great tree to plant on the edge of a lake or pond in backyards or parks.

  • Grows up to 50-80 ft. tall (15-24 m) and 20-50 ft. wide (6-15 m).
  • Performs best in full sun or light shade in acidic, moist to wet soils. Tolerates poorly-drained soils and can grow in standing water.
  • Virtually pest and disease free.
  • Propagate by seed. Sow fresh or stratified seed in a moist, muddy soil covered by one inch of firm soil. Seedlings benefit from partial shade.
  • Water Tupelo grows throughout the Coastal Plain from southeastern Virginia to southern Georgia, and from northwestern Florida along the Gulf of Mexico to southeastern Texas. It extends up the Mississippi River Valley as far north as the southern tip of Illinois.

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Requirements

Hardiness 6 – 9
Plant Type Trees
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early,Mid,Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 50' – 80' (15m – 24m)
Spread 20' – 50' (6m – 15m)
Water Needs Average, High
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Moisture Retentive, Poorly Drained
Characteristics Showy
Native Plants United States, Midwest, Illinois, Missouri, Southeast, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Southwest, Texas
Tolerance Wet Soil
Garden Uses Bog Gardens, Ponds and Streams
Garden Styles Prairie and Meadow

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Pi-Lens, Wildnerdpix, Shutterstock

While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.


Requirements

Hardiness 6 – 9
Plant Type Trees
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early,Mid,Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 50' – 80' (15m – 24m)
Spread 20' – 50' (6m – 15m)
Water Needs Average, High
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Moisture Retentive, Poorly Drained
Characteristics Showy
Native Plants United States, Midwest, Illinois, Missouri, Southeast, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Southwest, Texas
Tolerance Wet Soil
Garden Uses Bog Gardens, Ponds and Streams
Garden Styles Prairie and Meadow

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