In Missouri we have several natural areas designated. One of these areas is called Tupelo Gum Pond, which is located in Oregon County within the Mark Twain National Forest.

From Winona, head west for 4 miles on Highway 60. Turn left (south) onto County Road 617 for about 8 miles till a “Y” intersection.

Then, turn left onto Forest Service Road 3239 for about 2 miles. Then turn onto Forest Service Road 3239B. Park and walk down to the pond area.

Dana Sturgeon

You will see several tupelo gum trees or water tupelo trees in a pond area of about 32 acres. It is a sinkhole that was formed from a collapsed underground cavity.

Sinkhole ponds form when the bed of a sinkhole is lined with impermeable clay and organic matter deposits that prevent water from draining.

Beavers have used some of these trees for their dams or nesting areas. However, the U.S. Forest Service has been able to control the beaver enough to ensure these trees more years to survive.

Scientists have taken core samples from the pond’s sediments and determined that the trees growing around this pond between 12,000 to 20,000 years ago were mainly jack pine, a species now found native 500 miles north of here.

The pollen record from 3,000 to 12,000 years ago was poorly preserved. Water tupelo and buttonbush pollen were common in the past 3,000 years.

Normally these trees are found only in the southern states. However, there are a few that have been able to survive through the years in a few areas in our own state of Missouri.

(Dana Sturgeon lives in southern Missouri. She can be reached at