|Nyssa sylvatica foliage and flowers|
The tupelo (//), black gum, or pepperidge tree, genus Nyssa (//), is a small genus of about 9 to 11 species of trees with alternate, simple leaves. It is usually included in the subfamily Nyssoideae of the dogwood family, Cornaceae, but is placed by some authorities in the family Nyssaceae.
Most Nyssa species are highly tolerant of wet soils and flooding, and some need such environments as habitat. Five of the species are native to eastern North America from southeastern Canada through the Eastern United States to southern Mexico. Other species are found in eastern and southeastern Asia from China south through Indochina to Malaysia and southwest to the Himalayas.
The genus name Nyssa refers to a Greek water nymph. The name tupelo, one of the common names used for Nyssa, is of native American origin, coming from the Creek words ito ‘tree’ and opilwa ‘swamp’; it was in use by the mid-18th century
The city of Tupelo, Mississippi is named for this tree.
- Nyssa aquatica L. – Water Tupelo (North America)
- Nyssa biflora Walter – Swamp Tupelo (North America)
- Nyssa leptophylla – Hunan Tupelo (Asia)
- Nyssa ogeche W.Bartram ex Marshall – Ogeechee Tupelo (North America)
- Nyssa sessiliflora Hook.f. & Thomson ex Benth. (=N. javanica) – Indonesian Tupelo (Indonesia)
- Nyssa sinensis Oliv. – Chinese Tupelo (Asia)
- Nyssa sylvatica Marshall – Black Tupelo or Pepperidge (North America)
- Nyssa ursina Small – Bear Tupelo (North America)
- Nyssa yunnanensis W.C.Yin – Yunnan Tupelo (Asia)
Tupelo wood is used extensively by artistic woodcarvers, especially for carving ducks and other wildfowl. In commerce, it is used for shipping containers and interior parts of furniture, and is used extensively in the veneer and panel industry for crossbanding, plywood cores, and backs. The wood can be readily pulped and is used for high-grade book and magazine papers. In the past, the hollow trunks were used as "bee gums" to hold beehives.
Tupelos of the Nyssa ogeche species are valued as honey plants in the southeastern United States, particularly in the Gulf Coast region. They produce a very light, mild-tasting honey. In Florida, beekeepers keep beehives along the river swamps on platforms or floats during tupelo bloom to produce certified tupelo honey, which commands a high price on the market because of its flavor. Monofloral honey made from the nectar of Nyssa ogeche has such a high ratio of fructose to glucose that it does not crystallize.
The Apalachicola River in the Florida Panhandle is the center for tupelo honey. The honey is produced wherever tupelo trees (three species) bloom in southeastern USA, but the purest and most expensive version (which is certified by pollen analysis) is produced in this valley. In a good harvest year, the tupelo honey crop produced by a group of specialized Florida beekeepers has a value approaching $1,000,000.
- "Genus: Nyssa L.". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2010-01-27. Retrieved 2011-02-04.
- "GRIN Species Records of Nyssa". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2011-02-04.
- "Nyssa". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 2011-02-04.
- Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
- Werthner, William B. (1935). Some American Trees: An intimate study of native Ohio trees. New York: The Macmillan Company. pp. xviii + 398 pp.
- New Oxford American Dictionary, 2nd Edition.
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