Black Tupelo is native to eastern North America, reaching all the way west to Texas and parts of Mexico. The name tupelo originates from the Native American Creek words ito (tree) and opilwa (swamp). In its northern range and in Appalachia, the black tupelo is also called black gum or sour gum. In the fall, the leaves turn purple and eventually bright red.. The small flowers are greenish-white and hang in clusters at the top of a stalk. The fruit is a blackish-blue stone fruit with an oily, bitter to sour tasting flesh. Black tupelo produces honey and is a good landscaping tree because of its vibrant colors in autumn. The wood is used to make pulleys, wheel hubs, bowls, pallets, and rough floors. It is also used for firewood.