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What is Tupelo Honey?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 16, 2024
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Tupelo honey includes table and baking grades of honey made from the blossoms of the tupelo gum tree, Nyssa aquatica. The tupelo gum tree grows in flooded forest areas in states such as Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, and Virginia as well as along the Mississippi River, but the honey is mainly only produced commercially in areas along the Choctawhatchee, Apalachicola, and Ochlockonee rivers. Honey made from the white tupelo gum tree, Nyssa ogeche, is top quality table honey and is valued for its uniquely delicious flavor and its inability to granulate.

White tupelo honey is sometimes called fine tupelo honey and is the most expensive honey because it is the most expensive to produce. Care must be taken by the beekeepers to clean the combs at the right time so that when the white tupelo gum tree blossoms, only the honey from these blossoms is collected. It is a prized, sweet and delicious light amber table honey with a greenish hue to it and it won't granulate or crystallize.

Black tupelo honey is made from the blossoms of the black tupelo gum tree, Nyssa sylvatica, and it produces a darker honey that will granulate. It is not prized for table honey and is often used as a bakery grade honey. Both white and black types are produced by placing bees on platforms on the tupelo gum trees in the spring months. As the bees travel through the swamps, they produce the honey from the gum trees' nectar.

If top quality white tupelo honey is mixed with any other type of honey such as black tupelo, wildflower or gallberry, it will granulate. Only fine white honey won't granulate or crystallize. The delightful taste of the pure white variety can be savored on hot buttered toast or cold vanilla ice cream as well as on or in many other foods.

This honey was mentioned in the 1997 movie, Ulee's Gold, that stars Peter Fonda as a beekeeper who also battles bank robbers and looks after his abandoned grandchildren. Many aspects of honey production and beekeeping were taught to Fonda by the Lanier family of Wewahitchka, Florida. L.L. Lanier and Sons produces fine tupelo honey and some family members were extras in the movie. Tupelo Honey is also the name of Irish singer Van Morrison's song and album released in November of 1971. The song declares: "She's as sweet as tupelo honey. Just like honey from the bee."

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon324195 — On Mar 08, 2013

Certified "White Tupelo" honey is only produced commercially in the Apalachicola area of the Florida panhandle. Other types of Tupelo usually come from other varieties of the Tupelo tree and are not certified to be pure "White Tupelo". The article is not very clear on this.

By anon283631 — On Aug 05, 2012

We have tupelo trees in Texas.

By anon204276 — On Aug 08, 2011

I bought Tupelo honey while visiting the Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, SC.. It was stated that Tupelo is harvested there. Interestingly though I bought raw Savannah Tupelo honey a few months ago, which on the jar says that it is produced there in Savannah, GA.

Here's the fact: Water tupelo grows throughout the Coastal Plain from southeastern Virginia to southern Georgia, and from northwestern Florida along the Gulf of Mexico to southeastern Texas. It extends up the Mississippi River Valley as far north as the southern tip of Illinois.

By anon173764 — On May 08, 2011

i bought some from fresh market, a grocery store chain of fine foods.

By anon147823 — On Jan 30, 2011

I saw the question about tupelo honey being good for diabetics. What is the answer and why? Myrka

By anon142611 — On Jan 13, 2011

I am from Wakulla County Florida, and live in southwest Florida now. I refuse to buy honey in the grocery store and only get it when I go home. I used to buy it from Mr. Clyde, may he rest in peace. I now need to find someone there who also sells it. It really is the cadillac of all honeys!

By anon130790 — On Nov 29, 2010

We live in cassopolis, mi and have a several groves tupelo trees in our low-line swamp with wonderful tupelo honey every year.

By anon112324 — On Sep 19, 2010

Tupelo Honey is also found in Wakulla County Florida, with several bee keepers in Smith Creek and Sopchoppy FL. My grandfather was a bee keeper for many years and so was my father. The trees grow along the Sopchoppy and Ochlockonee Rivers.

By anon111948 — On Sep 18, 2010

I heard years ago that tupelo honey was safe for diabetic people to use. True? bnf

By anon109493 — On Sep 07, 2010

this is to grannymoe, a possible explanation of "watery or thin" honey.

First, the quality of honey depends on what vegetation is around the bee farmer. For example. in Illinois. honeybees harvesting off buckwheat produce 20 times the anti-oxidant levels as california bees harvesting from sage plants. The darker the honey, the more anti-oxidant and in general higher quality.

Recently farmers, to cheapen their product, feed their bees sugar syrup and sugar water, creating a cheap but highly food-brain-stimulous product. Hope this helps clarify some.

By anon107577 — On Aug 30, 2010

I believe it is originally from Asia and is not indigenous to the USA.

By anon102899 — On Aug 10, 2010

my cousin says this works great for the bad leg cramps he gets and keeps it on his bedside table.

By anon66000 — On Feb 17, 2010

Tupelo honey only comes from two places: Tupelo, Mississippi and Wewawhitchka, Florida.

By Grannymoe — On Apr 22, 2009

I just returned from Daveo (in the Philippines). While there, I purchased a bottle of honey from an elderly woman on the streets. I *think* she called it Tupelo, and it has a very good flavor, though somewhat thinner than most honey. While reading about Tupelo honey, I don't see the Philippines listed. Does anyone know if it is produced there?

Thank you.

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