Nyssa sinensis

Chinese tupelo

  • © John Glover

Outstanding Qualities

Nyssa sinensis is a widely adaptable tree with great fall color. This broadly conical tree is especially suitable for difficult sites and wet soils. New leaves emerge cast in bronze-purple and mature to dark green. Leaves are alternate and simple, with small teeth at the margin not found in other species of Nyssa. Mature leaves can reach 8 to 10 inches long by 3 inches wide. fall color ranges from brilliant red and pumpkin orange to hints of yellow. This is a smaller tree than its American relative, Nyssa sylvatica (black tupelo or sour gum), and is better suited for the small urban garden. It is also more disease resistant than Nyssa sylvatica. Chinese tupelo is a particularly good choice for areas with wet soils or near ponds, streams, and lakes. Nyssa sinensis can also be used as a street tree due to its tolerance of compacted soils. The genus Nyssa is named for one of the water nymphs of Greek mythology.

Quick Facts

Plant Type: tree

Foliage Type: deciduous

Plant Height: 18 ft. 0 in. (5.49 meters)

Plant Width/Spread: 12 ft. 0 in. (3.66 meters)

Plant Height-Mature: 50 ft. 0 in. (15.24 meters)

Plant Width-Mature: 35 ft. 0 in. (10.67 meters)

Hardiness: USDA Zones 7 to 9

Flower Color: green

Sun/Light Exposure: full sun to light or open shade

Water Requirements: regular summer watering

Seasonal Interest: autumn color

Colors & Combos

Great Color Contrasts: red, orange, yellow

Great Color Partners: chartreuse, dark green

Culture Notes
This tough tree prefers full sun to light or open shade. It is adaptable to many different soil conditions from well-drained to wet soils. It will also tolerate sandy sites and clay. It looks best when it gets regular summer watering. Little pruning is needed to maintain its shape, only remove dead, broken or poorly formed branches.