Nyssa is a genus of trees in family Cornaceae (Nyssaceae), comprising 9 to 11 species. Five species are native to eastern North America, the other from east and south Asia. It is commonly known as tupelo or pepperidge tree.
Nyssa is an excellent and unusual ornamental plant for small garden with acid soil, and can be planted as woodland setting in larger garden.
Nyssa 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 northern Florida, beekeepers keep beehives along the river swamps on platforms or floats during tupelo bloom to produce certified tupelo honey, which fetch a high price on the market.
Nyssa sylvatica is a medium-sized deciduous tree which is often known as Black Tupelo. Other names includes Blackgum, Sourgum and Pepperidge. The leaves is variable in size and shape. It can be oval, elliptical, or obovate. It is lustrous, with entire, often wavy margins. During autumn, the green leaves turn to intense bright scarlet, or yellow and scarlet. It bears clusters of small, greenish-white flowers at the top of a long stalk in May to June. The fruit which borne in October, is a black-blue, ovoid stone fruit, about 10mm long with a thin, oily, bitter-to-sour tasting flesh.
Nyssa sinensis (Chinese Tupelo), 10 meters high and across, has narrow dark green leaves, each to 20 cm long.The young leaves are suffused with red, and in autumn all the foliage change to brialliant shades of red, yellow and orange. Small flowers appear in early summer and are followed by small bluish fruits.
Nyssa aquatica (Water Tupelo, cottongum, sourgum, tupelo-gum, water-gum) is a large and long-lived tupelo tree that grows in the swamps and floodplains of the eastern United States. The tree has root system that is periodically under water and a swollen base. A good mature tree will produce commercial timber used for furniture and crates. Many kinds of wildlife eat the fruits and it is also a favored honey tree. The swollen base of the Water Tupelo is a source of favored wood for wood carvers.
Nyssa is hardy, grows in sun or partial shade, in moisture-retentive but well-drained, acid soil. Propagation is by seed in autumn, greenwood cuttings in summer; and semi-ripe cuttings in midsummer.