Our group of Black tupelo trees bring a flare of orange, scarlet, and purple to the park in fall. These remarkable trees grow to between 60–80 feet and can live to be over 650 years old. They have glossy dark green leaves in summer and unique rough bark that looks like an alligator hide.
In springtime, tupelos produce very small, greenish-white flowers that are a rich source or nectar. Its flowers are a favorite of bees and make delicious honey. Their dark blue stone fruits are bitter tasting to humans, but sought out by many birds, including the American Robin, Northern Cardinal, and Bluejay.
The species’ common name, tupelo, is of Native American origin, coming from the Creek tribe’s words for tree ito, and swamp opilwa. The name tupelo is primarily used by people in the American South, whereas up north and in Appalachia, it’s more commonly called the Black gum tree.