How to Prune Swamp Tupelo


Swamp tupelo, known botanically as nyssa biflora, is a deciduous flowering and fruiting tree that grows in wetlands, swamps and coastal plains. It is a medium size tree that reaches roughly 60 feet at maturity and grows in full sun or in filtered shade as an understory tree. It flowers in the spring and produces striking deep blue fruits in the summer and fall. The fruit are a bit bitter for human consumption, but animals rely on them for food. Swamp tupelo requires little pruning save to remove damaged limbs or foliage.

Step 1

Inspect your swamp tupelo once every few months to look for damaged branches and foliage or for signs of disease. Cut away any problem areas you find back to the point of healthy wood or foliage, and discard the cuttings in the trash.

Step 2

Prune swamp tupelo fruit stems or entire branches in the late spring to remove the forming fruit and prevent its maturation and drop. Although you can do this to prevent the need for clean up in the late fall and winter, it will deprive animals of the food source the ripe drupes provide and therefore is not a recommended practice.

Step 3

Prune into the tree canopy infrequently and only as needed to provide sunlight penetration and airflow into the tree that is crowded with crossing branches or is dying in the center. Remove no more than one-third of the interior canopy in any one pruning session to reduce the risk of shock.

Things You'll Need

  • Pole saw
  • Loppers
  • Ladder


  • USDA: Plant Database Profile
  • North Carolina State University: Nyssabi
  • MIssouri Department of Conservation: The Other Swamp Tree
Keywords: swamp tupelo shrub tree, nyssa biflora walter, prune cut back shape

About this Author

An omni-curious communications professional, Dena Kane has more than 17 years of experience writing and editing content for online publications, corporate communications, business clients, industry journals, as well as film and broadcast media. Kane studied political science at the University of California, San Diego.