There is a delicious honey that does not crystallize. Tupelo honey has a unique combination of Fructose to Glucose which results in a very high resistance to crystallization. The white Tupelo or sour gum tree is botanically called Nyssa ogeche. The Ogeechee Lime is one of the rarer North American Tupelos, but has the largest range; from Cape Cod to the old South, across the Southern US and then up the West coast to Washington State and Southern Canada. The Tupelo tree is a very versatile and beautiful tree; it is very adaptable although it prefers to grow near water and can often be found in swamp areas, or places where the soil is very moist.
White Tupelo grows up to fifty feet tall and can have a spread of thirty or more feet. The foliage is thick and usually creates beautiful shade during the summer heat. The oval shaped foliage is of a light green color. These unique leaves turn a bright red color during the fall. The bark is rough and often has lichen and moss growing on its rather thin trunk which sports a grey colored bark. The blooms produce some of the sweetest honey; male trees produce only male flowers which hang in clusters and are said to be more attractive to honeybees, whereas the fruiting plants carries solitary female flowers as well as flowers with both male and female organs. The female flowers becomes oblong shaped fruit which varies in color from dull yellow, olive brown, red or orange yellow, and ripens into a dark purple color. The flesh is acidic and the fruit matures during July and August and persists into November and December; Tupelo fruit are usually eaten by wildlife such as the American Robin, Gray-cheeked Thrush, Brown Thrasher, along with many other bird species, various Ducks, Raccoons, Squirrels, Opossums and Deer. In Georgia Tupelo fruit is used to prepare marmalade, preserves and a delicious relish because of its sour flavor; the fruit is so sour it has been used as a lime substitute.
The Tupelo, also known as the pepperidge tree; genus Nyssa, is a small genus of about nine to eleven species of trees with alternate, simple leaves. It is usually included in the subfamily Nyssoideae of the Dogwood family. Five of this species are native to eastern North America from the extreme South of Canada down to Eastern Mexico; and can be found growing naturally near swamps, streams, rivers, and lakes. The other six species are found in East and South Asia from China South to Malaysia and West to the Himalayas.
Tupelo wood is only valued and used extensively by artistic woodcarvers, especially for carving pieces like wildfowl and ducks. Tupelo wood can be readily pulped and is usually used for high-grade book and magazine papers. Tupelo is valued as an excellent honey producing plant by beekeepers in the Southeastern United States, particularly in the Gulf Coast region. The town of Tupelo Mississippi was named for these trees. Tupelo produces a light-amber honey with a greenish cast, and a mild floral to fruity taste. In Southern Georgia and Northwestern Florida beekeepers place their beehives along the river and swamps on platforms or floats during tupelo bloom season so as to gather certified tupelo honey, which commands a high price on the market because of its flavor.
The name tupelo is a common name used for Nyssa, of Native American origin; it came from Creek Indian words “ito” meaning tree and “opilwa” meaning swamp; the term was in use since the mid18th century. Tupelo trees are most content when standing in several feet of water. An abundance of Tupelo trees are found in the Apalachicola and Chipola river basins of the Florida Panhandle. Tupelo bloom typically occurs between March and May; male Tupelo blossoms starts out as a round bud, about the size of a small pea; it then grows into what looks like a miniature cauliflower. Finally, it explodes with dozens of little spikes; the nectar is found at the base of each spike where honeybees find their "pot of gold."
Tupelo blossoms are very fragile and unpredictable. In excellent Tupelo years, the nectar flow typically lasts for a few weeks, while in other not so prime years the fragile blooms may be ruined just a few days after opening by hard rain, heavy wind, or unseasonably cold weather. Tupelo honey is certified if it contains fifty one percent Tupelo nectar, but in many cases the purest certifiable Tupelo honey is about ninety five percent Tupelo nectar; a pollen analysis is done to ascertain purity. Certified tupelo honey is not heated, pasteurized, or filtered. Caution, honey labeled Tupelo that is crystallizing displays a good indication that it is not pure. Tupelo honey is popular in the South to the point there is a song by Van Morrison and even a movie made in its honor.