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Index of Species Information


SPECIES:  Nyssa sylvatica, N. biflora
 
Blackgum. Creative Commons image by Richard Webb, Bugwood.org. Swamp tupelo. Creative Commons image by John Ruter, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org.

 


Introductory


AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION: Coladonato, Milo 1992. Nyssa sylvatica, N. biflora. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/tree/nysspp/all.html []. Updates: On 29 January 2018, the common name of Nyssa sylvatica was changed in FEIS from: black tupelo to: blackgum, and the scientific name of swamp tupelo was changed from: Nyssa sylvatica var. biflora to: Nyssa biflora. Images were also added. ABBREVIATION: NYSSPP NYSSYL NYSBIF BIF SYNONYMS: for swamp tupelo: Nyssa sylvatica var. biflora (Walter) Sarg. NRCS PLANT CODE: NYSY NYBI COMMON NAMES: blackgum black tupelo swamp blackgum swamp tupelo sourgum pepperidge tupelo tupelo-gum yellow gum TAXONOMY: This review provides information on two closely related species in the family Cornaceae: Nyssa sylvatica Marsh [39,51,56,58], blackgum Nyssa biflora Walter [51,57], swamp tupelo Blackgum occurs on light-textured soils of uplands and stream bottoms, and swamp tupelo occurs on heavy organic or clay soils of wet bottomlands [44]. LIFE FORM: Tree FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS: No special status OTHER STATUS: NO ENTRY

DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE

SPECIES: Nyssa sylvatica, N. biflora
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Blackgum grows from southern Ontario and southwestern Maine south to central Florida.  It is local in central and southern Mexico [19,26,44]. Swamp tupelo is most common on the 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 East Texas [19,26,44].
Blackgum (left) and swamp tupelo (right) distributions. Maps courtesy of USDA, NRCS. 2018. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC [51] [2018, January 2018].
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 blackgum as an indicator or dominant in the
following community type classification [33]:

Location              Classification               Authority

se NC                 general veg. cts             Kologiski 1977

MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS

SPECIES: Nyssa sylvatica, N. biflora
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE: Blackgum and swamp 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, blackgum is also used for flooring, rollers in glass factories, blocks, gunstocks, and pistol grips [15,52]. IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE: Blackgum 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 blackgum are reported to be a moderate to high palatability browse to white-tailed deer [16,30]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE: Percent mean nutrient values of blackgum 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: Blackgum and swamp tupelo provide 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, blackgum and swamp tupelo are often planted as ornamentals.  Bees utilize the nectar from the flowers of black and swamp tupelo to produce honey [44,51]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS: Silviculture:  Seedling establishment of blackgum 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 blackgum have been described [25]. Animal damage:  Due to the high palatability of seedling and sprouts, blackgum can be eliminated or greatly reduced when deer populations are high [16]. Insects and diseases:  The two most important insects that attack black and swamp 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:  Blackgum and swamp tupelo may compete with loblolly and shortleaf pine (Pinus taeda and P. echinata) stands for water and light, reducing their growth and development [28].

BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS

SPECIES: Nyssa sylvatica, N. biflora
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Blackgum 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 blackgum 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 blackgum and swamp tupelo will sprout from the stump following disturbance.  Smaller blackgum 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: Blackgum 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.  Blackgum 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, blackgum 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 species 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: Blackgum 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 blackgum 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: Blackgum 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. sylvatica    April-June          Sept-Oct                 Sept-Nov     N. sylvatica       late March- var. biflora       June                Aug-Oct                  Sept-Dec

FIRE ECOLOGY

SPECIES: Nyssa sylvatica, N. biflora
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS: Blackgum 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 blackgum 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

FIRE EFFECTS

SPECIES: Nyssa sylvatica, N. biflora
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT: The effects of fire on blackgum 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 blackgum 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, blackgum and swamp tupelo sprout prolifically, with individuals producing several sprouts each [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 blackgum 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 blackgum [38,54].  Riebold [47] suggests annual winter prescribed burns for controlling blackgum and other hardwoods up to 1 to 2 inches (2.5-5 cm) d.b.h.  Blackgum 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 blackgum [11].

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