Nyssa sylvatica
sour gum, pepperidge, tupelo

Cornaceae (dogwood family)
Eastern & Southeastern United States
Nyssa sylvatica in fall color, behind Building 70. Sairus Patel, 1 Oct 2018
Nyssa sylvatica leaves, behind Building 70. Sairus Patel, 1 Oct 2018

A small deciduous tree with good fall color and lanceolate leaves that are glossy green above and paler below. The small, dark blue plums, about ½ inch long, were eaten by Native Americans. Sour gums can be found on the south side of the Outer Quad near the men’s and women’s restrooms. It is used as a street tree at Gamble Garden Center, along Churchill Avenue and Waverley Street in Palo Alto.

Nyssa sylvatica leaves. John Rawlings, ca. 2005

Name derivation: Nyssa – after Nysa, a water nymph; the first described species, N. aquatica, grows in swamps; sylvatica – of woods.

About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005. Family updated from Nyssaceae to Cornaceae Dec 2017 (SP).