24 April 2015

Black tupelo

Nyssa sylvatica is cultivated as an ornamental tree in parks and large gardens, where it is often used as a specimen or shade tree. The tree is best when grown in sheltered but not crowded positions, developing a pyramidal shape in youth, and spreading with age. The stem rises to the summit of the tree in one tapering unbroken shaft, the branches come out at right angles to the trunk and either extend horizontally or droop a little, making a long-narrow, cone-like head. The leaves are short-petioled and so have little individual motion, but the branches sway as a whole... Its often spectacular autumnal coloring, with intense reds to purples, is highly valued in landscape settings. It is the most fiery and brilliant of the 'brilliant group' that includes maple, dogwood, sassafras, and sweet gum, as well as various species of tupelo.
Photographed yesterday at the University of Wisconsin Arboretum.  I was late getting there this autumn and missed most of the great foliage, but this gum tree was still absolutely magnificent.

(Reposted from 2012 for Arbor Day 2015) 


  1. I think I remember that this wood used to be used in the making of rollers for printing presses due to its resistance to marring. We have a few in our yard but their color over the last few autumns hasn't been anything like your picture.

  2. Oh, my mother definitely needs on of those in her yard. What a gorgeous tree!

  3. Finally, I understand the title of one of Van Morrison's earlier songs, Tupelo Honey. I'm guessing that this beautiful tree also appeals to bees when in blossom and the resulting honey has a unique flavour. In Australia's island state of Tasmania, there is a uniquely flavoured and sought-after honey called Leatherwood, from - you guessed it - leatherwood trees.


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