Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Southern Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Nyssa sylvatica Marshall
- Family: Nyssa (Nyssaceae)
- Flowering: April-June
- Field Marks: The abruptly pointed leaves, which rarely have teeth on the margins, appear
crowded at the tip of the branchlets and serve to distinguish this species.
- Habitat: Low woods, dry upland woods.
- Habit: Tree to 100 feet tall, with a trunk diameter up to 3 feet; crown rounded.
- Bark: Brown to black, often broken up into squarrish blocks.
- Twigs: Red-brown, smooth, with partitioned pith.
- Leaves: Alternate (although seemingly almost whorled at the tip of the branchlets), simple,
obovate, abruptly pointed at the tip, tapering to the base, sometimes with an erratic tooth along
the edges, otherwise toothless, smooth and shiny on the upper surface, paler and sometimes hairy
on the lower surface, up to 5 inches long, up to 2 inches wide, on stalks 1-1 1/2 inches long.
- Flowers: Male and female borne on separate trees, appearing after the leaves begin to unfold,
the male in spherical clusters, the female 1-several on long stalks arising from the leaf axils.
- Sepals: 5, tiny, green, united below.
- Petals: Usually none.
- Stamens: 5-15.
- Pistils: Ovary inferior.
- Fruits: Drupes oval, dark blue, bitter, up to 1/2 inch long, 1-seeded; seed indistinctly ribbed.
- Notes: The leaves of this tree are the first to turn red during the year.
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