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Nyssa sinensis: Chinese Tupelo1

Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson 2

Introduction

The deciduous Chinese tupelo probably grows 35 to 50 feet tall and almost as wide in a rounded shape. Like many other Nyssa, young trees grow with a pyramidal habit. The six-inch-long, green leaves turn brilliant shades of red, yellow, and orange in fall before dropping. Small, greenish-white flowers appear in the spring in axillary clusters and are followed by small blue fruits. These are visible when they drop and stain sidewalks for a period of time but they wash away quickly following a rain.

Figure 1. Young Nyssa sinensis: Chinese tupelo
Figure 1.  Young Nyssa sinensis: Chinese tupelo
Credit: Ed Gilman, UF/IFAS

General Information

Scientific name: Nyssa sinensis
Pronunciation: NISS-uh sigh-NEN-sis
Common name(s): Chinese tupelo
Family: Nyssaceae
USDA hardiness zones: 7A through 9B (Fig. 2)
Origin: not native to North America
Invasive potential: little invasive potential
Uses: tree lawn 4-6 feet wide; tree lawn > 6 ft wide; street without sidewalk; parking lot island 100-200 sq ft; parking lot island > 200 sq ft; reclamation; specimen; shade; highway median
Availability: not native to North America

Figure 2. Range
Figure 2.  Range

Description

Height: 35 to 50 feet
Spread: 25 to 35 feet
Crown uniformity: symmetrical
Crown shape: round, oval
Crown density: moderate
Growth rate: fast
Texture: medium

Foliage

Leaf arrangement: alternate (Fig. 3)
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: entire, serrate
Leaf shape: elliptic (oval)
Leaf venation: pinnate, brachidodrome
Leaf type and persistence: deciduous
Leaf blade length: 2 to 4 inches, 4 to 8 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: yellow, red
Fall characteristic: showy

Figure 3. Foliage
Figure 3.  Foliage

Flower

Flower color: unknown
Flower characteristics: not showy

Fruit

Fruit shape: round
Fruit length: less than .5 inch
Fruit covering: fleshy
Fruit color: unknown
Fruit characteristics: does not attract wildlife; not showy; fruit/leaves not a litter problem

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: branches droop; not showy; typically one trunk; thorns
Pruning requirement: little required
Breakage: resistant
Current year twig color: green
Current year twig thickness: medium
Wood specific gravity: unknown

Culture

Light requirement: full sun, partial sun, or partial shade
Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; acidic; occasionally wet; well-drained
Drought tolerance: high
Aerosol salt tolerance: unknown

Other

Roots: not a problem
Winter interest: no
Outstanding tree: no
Ozone sensitivity: unknown
Verticillium wilt susceptibility: unknown
Pest resistance: unknown

Use and Management

Chinese tupelo should be grown in full sun on moist, well-drained soil. The tree has not been grown in many places in this country and little else is known about the tree.

Pests and Diseases

Little is known about the susceptibility of this tree to pests and diseases.

Footnotes

1. This document is ENH-580, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Revised December 2006. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.
2. Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; and Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Agricultural Engineering Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

Publication #ENH-580

Date: 11/6/2014

      Organism ID

      Contacts

      • Michael Andreu