Swamp Tupelo (Biflora)

The Swamp Tupelo (Biflora) is generally described as a perennial tree. This is native to the U.S. (United States) has its most active growth period in the spring and summer . The greatest bloom is usually observed in the late spring, with fruit and seed production starting in the summer and continuing until fall. Leaves are not retained year to year. The Swamp Tupelo (Biflora) has a moderate life span relative to most other plant species and a moderate growth rate. At maturity, the typical Swamp Tupelo (Biflora) will reach up to 115 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 36 feet.

The Swamp Tupelo (Biflora) is easily found in nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. It can be propagated by bare root, container, seed. It has a slow ability to spread through seed production and the seedlings have low vigor. Note that cold stratification is not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below -18°F. has none tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

Wildlife: Its foliage and twigs are widely browsed by white-tailed deer. Fruits are highly nutritional and eaten by a variety of birds and small mammals. Additionally, provides cavity and nesting sites for a wide variety of birds and mammals. Its flowers are a source of nectar for bees kept by commercial honey producers.

Timber: Used mainly for lumber, veneer, paper pulp, and to some extent railroad ties. It is also used for flooring, rollers in glass factories, blocks, gunstocks, and pistol grips.

Recreation and Beautification: Excellent ornamental plant for its straight bole, shapely crown and attractive autumn foliage.

General Characteristics

Nyssa biflora (Walt.), swamp tupelo, is limited to 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 western and southern Tennessee. A moderately large tree, it can grow to over 100 feet in height and 3 to 4 feet in diameter; it has a narrow, oblong crown and spreading root system which commonly produces vigorous sprouts. Bark is light brown, deeply furrowed with scaly longitudinal ridges. Leaves are alternate, simple, dark green and shiny above, paler and often hairy below.

Required Growing Conditions

Swamp tupelo grows well on a variety of wet bottomland soils including organic mucks, heavy clays, and wet sands. Best growth is achieved on sites where the soil is continuously saturated with very shallow moving water such as banks of swamps, ponds, and estuaries of the Coastal Plain, and in low coves and seepages which remain wet year-round.

Swamp tupelo is distributed throughout the Southeast.

Cultivation and Care

Stump sprouting is common following logging. It is classed as intolerant to shade and will not develop unless released.Swamp tupelo is a prolific seed producer. Seed viability averages 60 percent, increasing as the season progresses. Seeds are disseminated primarily by gravity and birds, others generally fall to the ground and remain dormant in the litter or are carried by water. Seed overwinters on cool, damp soil and germinates the following spring. It requires nearly full sunlight for optimum early growth. Seedlings tolerate more competition but are much less adaptable than black tupelo. Prechilled seeds must be sown in spring. Seeds are drilled at the rate of 15 per foot of row and covered with ½ - 1 inch of soil. A mulch of pine needles is recommended. Beds must be kept moist.It sprouts from the stump following disturbance. Sprouts arise from suppressed buds and are concentrated near the top of the stump. Stump sprouts can produce seeds at 2 years of age.

General Upkeep and Control

Seedling establishment is best accomplished by shelterwood method. Regeneration can also be accomplished by clear-cutting if prior to a good seed fall or if advanced regeneration already exist. Due to the high palatability of seedlings and sprouts, swamp tupelo must be protected by controlling deer populations. It often competes with loblolly and shortleaf pine for water and light, reducing its growth and development. Basal tree injections with approved herbicides are effective control methods for crown kill.

Pests and Potential Problems The forest tent caterpillar (Malacosoma disstria) defoliates swamp tupelo causing growth loss and mortality. Tupelo lesion caused by Fusarium solani results in swelling and roughened bark. Fomes spp., Polyporus spp., Daedalea ambigua, Hydnum erinaceum, Lentinus tigrinus, and Pleurotus ostreatus fungi cause heartrot. It is highly susceptible to sapsucker and easily damaged by salt spray and sulfate-enriched water.

Cultivars, Improved, and Selected Materials (and area of origin) No cultivars are recommended at this time. Seeds are extracted from ripe fruits picked from the ground, from standing or felled trees.

Plant Basics
Growth Rate Moderate
General Type Tree
Growth Period Spring, Summer
Growth Duration Perennial
Lifespan Moderate
Plant Nativity Native to U.S.
Commercial Availability Routinely Available
Physical Characteristics
Bloom Period Late Spring
Displays Fall Colors Yes
Shape/Growth Form Single Stem
Drought Tolerance None
Shade Tolerance Intolerant
Height When Mature 115
Vegetative Spread None
Flower Color Green
Flower Conspicuousness No
Fruit/Seed Abundance Medium
Fruit/Seed Seasonality Summer Fall
Seed Spread Rate Slow
Gardening Characteristics
Propagations (Ways to Grow) Bare Root, Container, Seed
Moisture Requirements High
Cold Stratification Required Yes
Minimum Temperature -18
Soil Depth for Roots 34
Toxic to Nearby Plants No
Toxic to Livestock No
After-Harvest Resprout Ability Yes
Responds to Coppicing Yes
Growth Requirements
pH Range 4.5–5.7 pH
Precipitation Range 40–40 inches/yr
Planting Density 400–800 indiv./acre
Soil Textures Fine, Medium
Soil Depth for Roots 34
Minimum Frost-Free Days 230 day(s)
Salinity Tolerance None
CaCO3 Tolerance None
Sustainability & Use
Leaf Retention No
Palatability Medium
Fire Resistant No
Causes Livestock Bloating None

Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database, plants.usda.gov.
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA