Tupelo Point

As we near Tupelo Point, let's stop at the stone circle to our right and get a view of the topiary garden over at the Hunnewell estate. The Hunnewell family owned the land Wellesley College now occupies, and the amazing topiary garden is the oldest in North America.

Back on the path, you'll see sheep laurel, the low-growing evergreen shrub on the right. It's in the same family as rhododendrons and azaleas. It's sometimes used medicinally in extremely small amounts, because any more would be toxic. In fact, the plant gets its name from sheep that nibbled on its leaves and fell sick or died.

Now we've come to the end of the path, to Tupelo Point proper. No visit to this spot is complete without mentioning the black tupelo, which has grown here since the class of 1896 planted a tupelo for their class tree. The original tree now has many offspring. The tupelo's fruits are eaten, especially in winter, by over 30 species of birds, including pheasant, wild turkey, and ruffed grouse.

Wellesley legend has it that if a student walks around the lake three times with the same young man, and passes Tupelo Point each time, he must propose or be thrown in the lake. The famous senior hoop-rolling contest begins here as well. If you stand at the end of the path facing the lake, you can see the rock that Hillary Rodham sat on for her yearbook photo, and across the cove is the President's house. To your left are some gray birches, recognizable by the black triangles below the branches on their white trunks. They are a water-loving species, with branches dangling into the water and erosion-resistant roots.

Well, this brings us to the end of our winter nature walk. I hope you enjoyed seeing Wellesley's abundant wildlife in a season usually thought to be devoid of life. Enjoy the rest of your day!




Created by: Niki Zhou and Carla Holleran
Maintained by: Nick Rodenhouse
Created: June 25, 2004
Last Modified: August 7, 2004
Expries: June 1, 2005