1 pale soft wood of a tupelo tree especially the water gum
2 any of several gum trees of swampy areas of North America [syn: tupelo tree]
3 a town in northeast Mississippi
- A North American tree (Nyssa multiflora) of the Dogwood family, having brilliant, glossy foliage and acid red berries.
The tupelos, or pepperidge tree, genus Nyssa, are a small genus of about 9 to 11 species of trees with alternate, simple leaves. Most are highly tolerant of wet soils and flooding, some needing to grow in such environments. Five of the species are native to eastern North America from the extreme south of Canada south to eastern Mexico; the others to east and south Asia from China south to Malaysia and west to the Himalaya. A related genus, Davidia, the Dove tree, occurs in China.
Tupelos are valued honey plants in southeastern and Gulf Coast of the United States, producing a very light, mild-tasting honey. In northern Florida, beekeepers keep beehives along the river swamps on platforms or floats during tupelo bloom to produce certified tupelo honey, which commands a high price on the market because of its flavor; monofloral honey made from the nectar of the Ogeechee Tupelo has such a high ratio of fructose to glucose that it does not crystallize.
The Apalachicola River in the Florida Panhandle is the center for tupelo honey. The honey is produced wherever tupelo trees (three species) bloom in southeastern USA, but the purest and most expensive version (which is certified by pollen analysis) is produced in this valley. In a good harvest year, the tupelo honey crop produced by a group of specialized Florida beekeepers approaches US$1,000,000.
Tupelo wood is used extensively by artistic woodcarvers, especially for carving ducks and other wildfowl. In commerce, it is used for shipping containers and interior parts of furniture, and is used extensively in the veneer and panel industry for crossbanding, plywood cores, and backs. The wood can be readily pulped and is used for high-grade book and magazine papers. In the past, the hollow trunks were used for bee gums to hold beehives.
Tupelo trees are also popular ornamental trees for their spectacular red fall color.
Tupelos are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, including Endoclita damor.
In pop culture
- John Lee Hooker released the song "Tupelo Blues" in 1959, about the flooding of Tupelo, Mississippi, in April 1936. Later covered by Captain Beefheart, by Bob Dylan, and adapted by Nick Cave.
- In 1971, musician and songwriter Van Morrison released an album entitled Tupelo Honey featuring the popular title song, "Tupelo Honey."
- The 1985 Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds' album The Firstborn Is Dead contains a song titled "Tupelo," about an apocalyptic flood, loosely based on Hooker's "Tupelo Blues".
- In the 1997 movie, Ulee's Gold, the title character is a beekeeper who produces tupelo honey (the "gold" being the fine-flavored, high quality honey).
- In 2003, British Mathcore band Sikth recorded the song "Tupelo" on the album The Trees Are Dead & Dried Out Wait for Something Wild, a cover of a Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds song of the same name.
- Currently, Tupelo Honey is the name of a unique folk rock band in the vein of Patty Griffin and the Indigo Girls.
- Uncle Tupelo was an alternative country band.
- In Kurt Vonnegut's novel Timequake, Kilgore Trout's last poem goes: "When the tupelo/ Goes poop-a-lo / I'll come back to youp-a-lo".
tupelo in Danish: Nyssa
tupelo in Esperanto: Tupelo
tupelo in Portuguese: Nyssa