Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Nyssa sylvatica


SPECIES: Nyssa sylvatica
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Coladonato, Milo 1992. Nyssa sylvatica In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].
ABBREVIATION : NYSSYL NYSSYLS NYSSYLB SYNONYMS : for swamp tupelo: Nyssa biflora Walter [57] SCS PLANT CODE : NYSY NYSYB COMMON NAMES : black tupelo swamp tupelo blackgum sourgum pepperidge tupelo tupelo-gum yellow gum swamp blackgum TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name for black tupelo is Nyssa sylvatica Marsh (Cornaceae) [39,56,58]. Tupelo is divided into two commonly recognized varieties which are differentiated by habitat: black tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica var. sylvatica) occurs on light-textured soils of uplands and stream bottoms, and swamp tupelo (N. sylvatica var. biflora (Walter) Sarg.) occurs on heavy organic or clay soils of wet bottomlands [44]. This review includes information on both varieties. LIFE FORM : Tree FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO ENTRY


SPECIES: Nyssa sylvatica
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Black tupelo grows from southwestern Maine west to New York, extreme southern Ontario, central Michigan, Illinois, central Missouri, and south to central Florida.  It is local in central and southern Mexico. Swamp tupelo is limited to Coastal Plain swamps and estuaries from Maryland and southeastern Virginia south to southern Florida.  It grows on the east side of the Mississippi River to western and southern Tennessee [19,26,44]. ECOSYSTEMS :    FRES10  White - red - jack pine    FRES11  Spruce - fir    FRES12  Longleaf - slash pine    FRES13  Loblolly - shortleaf pine    FRES14  Oak - pine    FRES15  Oak - hickory    FRES16  Oak - gum - cypress STATES :      AL  AR  CT  DE  FL  GA  IL  IN  KY  LA      ME  MD  MA  MI  MS  MO  NH  NJ  NY  NC      OH  OK  PA  RI  SC  TN  TX  VT  VA  WV      ON  MEXICO BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : NO-ENTRY KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :    K089  Black Belt    K090  Live oak - sea oats    K091  Cypress savanna    K095  Great Lakes pine forest    K097  Southeastern spruce - fir forest    K100  Oak - hickory forest    K101  Elm - ash forest    K102  Beech - maple forest    K103  Mixed mesophytic forest    K104  Appalachian oak forest    K111  Oak - hickory - pine forest    K112  Southern mixed forest    K113  Southern floodplain forest    K114  Pocosin    K115  Sand pine scrub SAF COVER TYPES :     39  Black ash - American elm - red maple     40  Post oak - blackjack oak     43  Bear oak     44  Chestnut oak     45  Pitch pine     46  Eastern redcedar     51  White pine - chestnut oak     52  White oak - black oak - northern red oak     53  White oak     55  Northern red oak     57  Yellow-poplar     58  Yellow-poplar - eastern hemlock     59  Yellow-poplar - white oak - northern red oak     65  Pin oak - sweetgum     70  Longleaf pine     75  Shortleaf pine     76  Shortleaf pine - oak     78  Virginia pine - oak     79  Virginia pine     80  Loblolly pine - shortleaf pine     81  Loblolly pine     82  Loblolly pine - hardwood     83  Longleaf pine - slash pine     85  Slash pine - hardwood     87  Sweetgum - yellow poplar     91  Swamp chestnut oak - cherrybark oak     93  Sugarberry - American elm - green ash     97  Atlantic white-cedar    100  Pond cypress    104  Sweetbay - swamp tupelo - redbay    110  Black oak SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Kologiski has included black tupelo as an indicator or dominant in the following community type classification [33]: Location              Classification               Authority se NC                 general veg. cts             Kologiski 1977


SPECIES: Nyssa sylvatica
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE : Black tupelo wood is used mainly for lumber, veneer, paper pulp, and to some extent for railroad ties [10,50].  The veneer is used mainly for boxes, crates, baskets, furniture, and interior woodwork.  Because of its toughness, black tupelo is also used for flooring, rollers in glass factories, blocks, gunstocks, and pistol grips [15,52]. IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Black tupelo sprouts are commonly browsed by white-tailed deer but lose palatability with age [8,16,30].  The fruit is high in nutrients and is eaten by a variety of birds and mammals [4,27,37]. PALATABILITY : Stumps sprouts of black tupelo are reported to be a moderate to high palatability browse to white-tailed deer [16,30]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE : Percent mean nutrient values of black tupelo on unburned plots in southern pine forests were as follows [36]:                                   N-free season    protein   fat   fiber   extract   ash   phosphorus   calcium   summer    7.64     2.33   32.84   44.01     2.63     0.06       1.10 COVER VALUE : Black tupelo provides cavity and nesting sites for a variety of birds and mammals [3,7,29]. VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : NO-ENTRY OTHER USES AND VALUES : Because of its straight bole, shapely crown, and attractive autumn foliage, black tupelo is often planted as an ornamental.  Bees utilize the nectar from the flowers of black and swamp tupelo to produce honey [44,51]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Silviculture:  Seedling establishment of black tupelo is best accomplished by the shelterwood method.  Regeneration can also be accomplished by clearcutting if it follows a good seed fall or if advanced regeneration is already established [9,18,].  Silvicultural practices for regenerating black tupelo have been described [25]. Animal damage:  Due to the high palatability of seedling and sprouts, black tupelo can be eliminated or greatly reduced when deer populations are high [16]. Insects and diseases:  The two most important insects that attack black tupelo are the tupelo leaf miner (Antispila nyssaefoliella) and the forest tent caterpillar (Malacosoma disstria).  Infestation of these insects cause growth loss and occasional mortality.  Fire scars often serve as entry points for a large number of heart rot fungi [44]. Control:  Black tupelo and other hardwoods often compete with loblolly and shortleaf pine (Pinus taeda and P. echinata) stands for water and light, reducing their growth and development [28].  Basal tree injections of black tupelo with the herbicide DOWCO 23 was reported to be the most effective, resulting in ninety-nine percent crown kill [34].


SPECIES: Nyssa sylvatica
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Black tupelo is a medium- to large-sized, native, deciduous tree, frequently 60 to 80 feet high (18-24 m) [22,31].  In the forest it typically has a dense foliage with a conical crown on an erect trunk which extends continuously into the top.  The simple, alternate leaves are leathery, and densely clustered at the branchlets.  The small greenish white flowers are borne singly or in capitate clusters.  The bark is reddish brown and broken into deep irregular ridges and diamond-shaped plates.  On old trunks, the bark may be an inch (2.5 cm) or more thick [12,15].  Swamp tupelo (var. biflora) develops a long taproot and a swollen base [44]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM :       Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Seed production and dispersal:  Seed production in black tupelo is highly variable while swamp tupelo is a prolific seed producer [10,23]. Viability of swamp tupelo seed, which averages 60 percent, increases as the season progresses [44].  The principal dissemination agents are gravity and birds [41].  Birds consume the fleshy fruits and seed are passed through the digestive tract [44,48].  The fruits are not persistent and fall shortly after ripening in late summer or fall. Seeds not dispersed by animals generally fall to the ground near the tree and remain dormant in the litter or are transported by water [14,48]. Seedling development:  Under natural conditions, seed overwinters on cool, damp soil and germinates the following spring.  Both varieties appear to require nearly full sunlight for optimum early growth.  Black tupelo, however, will tolerate more overhead competition and can exist on unfavorable sites.  Swamp tupelo is much less adaptable [14,23,44]. Vegetative reproduction:  Both black tupelo and swamp tupelo will sprout from the stump following disturbance.  Smaller black tupelo stumps sprout readily while larger stumps sprout occasionally.  Sprouts arise from suppressed buds and are concentrated near the top of the stump [32,44]. Stump sprouts can produce seeds at 2 years of age.  Thus, if the seed crop fails or unfavorable weather conditions prevent a good crop of seedlings from becoming established, sprouts can provide a seed source [32,44]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Black tupelo is adapted to a wide variety of sites, from the creek bottoms of the southern Coastal Plain to altitudes of 3,000 feet (915 m) in North Carolina.  Black tupelo will tolerate brief spring flooding on alluvial sites and is common on the relatively dry upper and middle slopes in the Appalachian Mountains.  On the drier uplands, black tupelo will survive but with a slower growth rate [4,26].  Swamp tupelo is found in and on the banks of swamps, ponds, and estuaries of the Coastal Plain, and in low coves and seepages which remain wet year-round [1,19,44]. Common tree associates of both varieties are:  black cherry (Prunus serotina), dogwood (Cornus florida), hickory (Carya spp.), oak (Quercus spp.), eastern hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana), yaupon (Ilex vomitoria), swamp cyrilla (Cyrilla racemiflora), and redbay (Persea borbonia) [13,17,42,43,45]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Black tupelo is usually found with a mixture of other species.  It is classed as tolerant of shade and rarely attains overstory dominance but is usually grows in the intermediate crown class on most sites. Intermediate black tupelo stems respond favorably to release from overtopping vegetation.  Seedlings grow slowly under a fully stocked stand.  When the canopy is removed, about 25 percent or more can be expected to respond with relatively rapid height growth.  At the time of disturbance large numbers of new seedlings can become established. Swamp tupelo is classed as intolerant of shade and will not develop unless released [2,6,20,44]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Black tupelo and swamp tupelo flower in the spring when the leaves are nearly grown.  Fruits develop over the spring and summer and ripen early to late fall depending on latitude and climate.  General timing of flowering, and fruit ripening and dispersal for the two varieties is as follows [10,19,26]:                   Flowering          Fruit ripening          Fruit dispersal N. sylvatica var. sylavatica    April-June          Sept-Oct                 Sept-Nov     N. sylvatica       late March- var. biflora       June                Aug-Oct                  Sept-Dec


SPECIES: Nyssa sylvatica
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Black tupelo is well adapted to fire.  Older trees have thick bark and relatively high moisture content [48].  Swamp tupelo sites are usually quite wet and fire is only a factor during periods of extended drought [5,44].  Although aboveground portions of young black tupelo are top-killed by fire, the species typically survives by sprouting from the root crown or caudex [32,53]. FIRE REGIMES : Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :    survivor species; on-site surviving root crown or caudex    off-site colonizer; seed carried by animals or water; postfire yr 1&2


SPECIES: Nyssa sylvatica
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : The effects of fire on black tupelo depends on the size of the individual and severity of fire.  Most fires typically top-kill black tupelo.  However, hot fires during dry periods can cause mortality and deformity [5,55]. On the Atlantic Coastal Plain, prescribed summer fires caused some top-kill in black tupelo up to 4 inches d.b.h (10 cm).  Top-kill averaged 50 percent for trees 2 inches (5 cm) d.b.h. [11]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : Fire wounds can serve as entry points for various heart rot fungi [47]. PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : When top-killed by fire, black tupelo sprouts prolifically, with each individual producing several sprouts [44].  In a study conducted in the southern Appalachians, trees 1 to 4 inches (2.5-10 cm) d.b.h. sprouted quickly following a once-over broadcast burn [32]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : The following Research Project Summaries provide information on prescribed fire and postfire response of plant community species, including black tupelo, that was not available when this species review was written: FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Fire can be a useful management tool for controlling black tupelo and other hardwoods.  Depending on the season and type of treatment, repeated burning over a long period of time has been reported as an effective control of black tupelo [38,54].  Riebold [47] suggests annual winter prescribed burns for controlling black tupelo and other hardwoods up to 1 to 2 inches (2.5-5 cm) d.b.h.  Black tupelo will sprout, but the sprouts can be killed by repeated winter fires before they reach 1 to 2 inch (2.5-5 cm) d.b.h. Repeated summer fires in the early growing season when the leaves are fully expanded is also a very effective method of weakening and eventually killing black tupelo [11].

References for species: Nyssa sylvatica

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