Tennessee Smart Yards Native Plants

A comprehensive database of Tennessee native plants

Water Tupelo, Cotton Gum, Tupelo Gum

Water Tupelo, Cotton Gum, Tupelo Gum

Nyssa aquatica

Full to part sun; wet to medium moisture level; rich organic soil; acidic pH.

50-80 feet height by 25-50 feet spread; greenish white flowers, males in clusters and females solitary, in spring; dark purple fruit to 1 inch long in fall.

Growth Rate: Medium. Fastest growth rate is on areas that are permanently flooded.

Maintenance: Low. No serious insect or disease problems

Propagation: Seed germination code C (30-60) at 41 degrees F. Moderately easy from seed.

Native Region: Widespread in West Tennessee and also occurs in Coffee County in Middle Tennessee and in Marion County in East Tennessee

One of the most characteristic trees of southern swamps. Large, glossy, dark green leaves 4-8 inches long which turn yellow in fall. Recommended for pond landscaping. Naturally occurs on sites that are periodically under water. Grows in freshwater swamps, flood plain forests, and ponds and on lake margins. At its best in standing water but will also grow at the ends of a pond or in a permanently damp spot. Primarily dioecious, with male and female flowers on separate trees. May not flower and fruit until reaching 30 years of age. Honey bees love the flowers, and tupelo honey is sold throughout the South.

Special value to honey bees.


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