A native tree of North America, the sourwood is one of the few endemic trees that is not found in other continents unless planted and has no related species. The name Sourwood is derived from the acrid taste of its leaves, but tea made from these leaves is widely used by mountain climbers as a thirst-quencher. Pioneers used the sap as one ingredient in a concoction used for treating fevers; the bark for chewing to soothe mouth pains; and leaf tea for treating diarrhea, indigestion and dysentery. But the best known by-product of the Sourwood tree is the hard-to-find and extremely delicious honey that bees produce from the fragrant blossoms.
It goes by many other common or local names including sorrel tree, sorrel gum, sour gum, arrow wood, elk tree, lily-of-the-valley tree and titi tree.