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Tupelo (Nyssa aquatica)


A medium sized deciduous tree, such as Nyssa sylvatica and Nyssa aquatica, native to the eastern United States. Tupelo trees produce a stiff, tough wood that is hard to split. It is used for pallets, baskets, boxes, veneer, barrels and firewood. Tupelo bark dye has good washfastness and fair lightfastness.

Synonyms and Related Terms

black gum (Nyssa sylvatica); sour gum; pepperidge; beetlebung; water tupelo (Nyssa aquatica)

Other Properties

Medium sized tree growing to 25 m. Bark=grayish brown with shallow, irregular furrows. Leaf=simple alternate, pinnately veined oval (3-5 inches long) with coarse teeth, turning an intense red/purple color in fall.. Fruit = purple drupe (1 cm) ripening in late summer.

Density 35 ppcf

Paper fiber type: hardwood, diffuse porous. Using transmitted light microscopy, pulp is identified by long vessels with profuse opposite pitting. Spirals may be present on tips. Perforations are scalariform with >15 bars. Appearance with Graff "C" stain: dark blue, but varies with bleaching. Average dimensions of fibers: length, 1.8mm. 20-32μm wide. Common pulping method: kraft.

Additional Images


  • R.J. Adrosko, Natural Dyes in the United States, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, 1968
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 380
  • John and Margaret Cannon, Dye Plants and Dyeing, Herbert Press, London, 1994
  • External source or communication Comment: Hardwood Manufacturers Institute, Memphis, Tenn.: air-dry weight = 35 ppcf
  • Edward Reich, Carlton J. Siegler, Consumer Goods: How to Know and Use Them, American Book Company, New York City, 1937
  • Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, Douglas M. Considine (ed.), Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1976
  • Marja-Sisko Ilvessalo-Pfäffli. Fiber Atlas: Identification of Papermaking Fibers (Springer Series in Wood Science). Springer, 1995.
  • Walter Rantanen. "Fiber ID Course." Integrated Paper Services. June 2013. Lecture.

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