Tupelo (Nyssa)

Tupelo is a domestic hardwood


The tupelo group includes water (Nyssa aquatica), black (N. sylvatica), swamp (N. sylvatica var. biflora), and Ogeechee (N. ogeche) tupelo. Water tupelo is also known as tupelo gum, swamp tupelo, and sourgum; black tupelo, as blackgum and sourgum; swamp tupelo, as swamp blackgum, blackgum, and sourgum; and Ogeechee tupelo, as sour tupelo, gopher plum, and Ogeechee plum. All except black tupelo grow principally in the southeastern United States. Black tupelo grows in the eastern United States from Maine to Texas and Missouri. About two-thirds of the production of tupelo lumber is from Southern States.


Wood of the different tupelo species is quite similar in appearance and properties. The heartwood is light brownish gray and merges gradually into the lighter-colored sapwood, which is generally many centimeters wide. The wood has fine, uniform texture and interlocked grain. Tupelo wood is moderately heavy, moderately strong, moderately hard and stiff, and moderately high in shock resistance. Buttresses of trees growing in swamps or flooded areas contain wood that is much lighter in weight than that from upper portions of the same trees. Because of interlocked grain, tupelo lumber requires care in drying.

Primary Uses

Tupelo is cut principally for lumber, veneer, pulpwood, and some railroad crossties and slack cooperage. Lumber goes into boxes, pallets, crates, baskets, and furniture.

*Much of the base wood information presented here is made available by the USDA FPL FS. If you are interested in a much more technical description of wood properties, I encourage you to visit the source.