Botanical Name: Nyssa sylvatica
Common Name: Black Tupelo
Origin: E. North America
Notable Feature: This North American native has numerous attractive qualities but first and foremost is its unrivaled autumn color with only sassafras and maple in the same league.
Habit: A large, deciduous tree that may mature upwards to 50 to 100 feet tall. It is typically a straight-trunked tree with branches extending outward at right angles. The bark is dark gray and flaky when young but becomes furrowed with age, resembling an alligator’s skin.
Flower: Very small, yellowish green flowers appear in the spring before the leaves are fully formed. Flowers are either dioecious (male and female flowers occur on separate trees) or they may be perfect (bisexual) flowers.
Fruit: An oblong drupe resembling a small blueberry ripens on a short stem in clusters of 2 or 3 in the fall. A valuable energy source for migrating birds.
Foliage: Sharply-pointed and oval-shaped with smooth edges; 2 to 5” long. Dark green, glossy foliage is arranged alternately on the twigs. Noted for its consistent and spectacular fall color, exhibiting yellow, orange, scarlet, and purple colors.
Interesting Fact: It is the longest living flowering plant in North America capable of obtaining ages of over 650 years. The limbs of the trees often deteriorate early and the decayed holes make excellent dens for squirrels and raccoons as well as nesting sites for honey bees.