Trees have many benefits and one of the most overlooked is its sap. Sap serves the tree as blood does the human body – but how does the sap benefit life outside of the tree?
There are actually many ways sap is beneficial. First of all, there are two kinds of sap; both are water-based and contain minerals and hormones. Xylem sap contains additional nutrients, while Phloem sap has sugar. Pholem sap is technically made up of water, sugar, hormones and mineral elements.
With this, how is the sap used?
1. Food – Syrup is sap – maple syrup to be exact. We use sap on our pancakes, in candy and in butter. Birch sap is also made into a drink. Birch beer soda is made of birch sap, a popular drink by the Pennsylvania Dutch. A lesser known use of sap is through gum arabic which is a derivative from acacia tree sap. The gum is used in gumdrops, marshmallows, M&M’s and other candies.
2. Medicine – Sweetgum has been used by Native Americans as a balm. Some cultures mix tobacco and sweet gum to help people sleep. Sweetgum and gum arabic are used to make incense. Sweetgum is made into a salve and sold under names like Copalm Blasam and Liquid Storax. It is used to treat skin cancer, diarrhea, ringworm and other conditions. In South Korea, there is a festival that honors the sap of the gorosoe tree and it is used as a revitalizing tonic. Gum arabic is also used by drug companies as an emulsifier or binder in drugs. Gum arabic can be used to inhibit periodontal bacteria. Sap from the tree in the Amazon called Sangre de Grado or dragon’s blood, provides powerful relief from inflammation and pain. This sap is also used on insect bites.
3. Products – Sap in the form of gum arabic is used as a binder in watercolor paint, in making fireworks, as a non-toxic adhesive for cigarette papers and postage stamps. It is also used in photographic printing, cosmetics and perfume making. Some saps are made into rubber which of course is used in a million different ways. Natural rubber is used in everything from balloons to sterile gloves.
A tree usually holds its sap within itself but on occasion it will ’bleed’ over. Such bleeding is usually cased from a build up in carbon dioxide which in turn builds pressure within the tree. If there are any wounds or openings on the tree, the sap will ooze from these. Oozing sap can also be heat related. In early spring, fluctuating temperatures can affect tree sap flow. The warmer weather produces pressure within the tree. During cold weather, the tree pulls water through the roots and replenishes its sap until weather stabilizes.
Trees do not typically leak sap unless they are damaged in some way. Openings within the tree’s bark can be caused from bacterial canker, which is brought on by pruning or freezing. These cankers allow bacteria to penetrate the tree through these openings. This bacteria in turn causes the tree to produce an abnormally high sap pressure, which forces fermented sap out to flow from cracks or opening. Effected trees may demonstrate wilt or dieback on the branches. Slime flux is another bacterial problem characterized by tree sap oozing. Sour-smelling, slimy-looking sap leaks from cracks or wounds on the tree, turning gray as it dries.
Sap has a great amount of value to trees, humans and animals alike.
About the Author: Andrew Johnson is the owner of Central Texas Tree Care, a leading provider of Austin tree services in Central Texas. Certified ISA Austin arborist services including: tree trimming, tree removal, tree care and stump removal. For more information on Austin tree service please visit https://www.centraltexastreecare.com.
- National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix
- From Sap to Syrup
- Grade Level(s)
- Estimated Time
- Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
- Did you know? (Ag Facts)
- Background Agricultural Connections
- Interest Approach – Engagement
- Enriching Activities
- Suggested Companion Resources
- Organization Affiliation
- Agricultural Literacy Outcomes
- Education Content Standards
- Common Core Connections
- Natural Latex Rubber
- Adhesives, Medical Dressings
- Solvents and Thinners
- Chewing Gum
- Birch Sap
- Is There a Difference Between Tree Sap and Tree Resin?
- Tree Sap
- Tree Resin
- Indianapolis Tree Service
- Harvesting Sap from Trees: Reaping the Benefits of Natural Medicine
- Best Types of Tree Sap and How to Use Them
- What Is Tree Sap?
- What Does Tree Sap Contain?
- Tree Sap Problems
- The Trees to Avoid if You Don’t Want Sap on Your Car
- Which Trees Produce The Most Sap?
- Which Trees Produce Less Sap?
- How To Prevent Sappy Trees?
- What To Do If Sap Gets On Your Car?
National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix
From Sap to Syrup
K – 2
Students will recognize how geography and climate allow for the growth of maple trees and the process of making syrup. They will identify the characteristics of maple trees that produce the best sap for making maple syrup and name the steps in the process of creating syrup from sap.
Interest Approach — Engagement:
- Maple syrup (locally grown, if possible), 1 small cup per student
- Seesaw (optional)
- iPad or tablet, 1 per group
- K-W-L Charts instructions
Activity 1: Sugar Snow
- Sugar Snow by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- Tub of sandy or clayey soil*
- Tub of dark, wet soil (add water to local dark soil or potting soil)
- Tub of rocky soil (gather local rocky soil or add small rocks to soil)
- Sticky notes
- K-W-L chart from Interest Approach — Engagement
*Sand and clay samples are included in the Soil Samples (Soil Texture) Kit, which is available for purchase from agclassroomstore.com.
Activity 2: Sugar Maples
- USDA Natural Resources Conservation maps for sugar maple, black maple, red maple, silver maple, and box elder trees
- Leaves from sugar maple, black maple, red maple, silver maple, and box elder trees or Maple Tree Leaves drawings, 1 leaf from each tree for every 2-3 students
- Maple Tree Labels
- Sugar Maple Cross Section photo
- 12″X18″ brown construction paper, 1 piece per student
- Rulers, 1 per student
- Scissors, 1 per student
- K-W-L chart from Interest Approach — Engagement
Activity 3: Sap to Syrup
- Sap to Syrup Timeline Cards (cut apart), 1 set per group
- How to Make Maple Syrup video
- K-W-L chart from Interest Approach — Engagement
Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
- Maple Tree Labels
- Maple Tree Leaves Drawings
- Sap to Syrup Timeline Cards
- Sugar Maple Cross Section
- K-W-L Charts Instructions
climate: the weather conditions over a long period time
evaporate: to lose or cause to lose moisture; to cook until most of the liquid is vapor
legend: a very old, unverifiable story passed down from one generation to the next
maple syrup: a thick, sweet liquid made by dissolving the sugar found in the sap of a maple tree by boiling
maple tree: a type of tree with lobed leaves and colorful autumn leaves used for timber or syrup
natural resources: materials found in nature that can be used to make useful products
sap: the fluid made up mostly of water with dissolved sugars that circulate inside a plant or tree
sugar house: a building with equipment to turn maple sap into syrup
sugaring season: when maple syrup is made
tap: the hole put in a tree to extract sap
Did you know? (Ag Facts)
- It takes about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.1
- In 2017, 4.27 million gallons of maple syrup were produced in the United States. Vermont leads the nation in maple syrup production.2
- Native Americans living in the Northeast region of North America are credited with making the first maple syrup.3
- During the 2001 baseball season, Barry Bonds switched from the traditional ash wood baseball bat to one made of maple and hit 73 home runs—a new record!4
Background Agricultural Connections
Maple trees are a natural resource that are found almost anywhere but are most prevalent in the Northern Hemisphere. They are hardy but prefer, and are found, mostly in cool, wet climates. They like well-drained soil that is sandy or clayey with loose texture. There are at least one hundred species of maple trees. Fourteen species are found in the United States, with the majority of them found in the northeast and midwest sections of our country. Maple syrup can be made from any species of maple tree. Most maple syrup is made from the sugar maple due to its high sugar content. Generally, the ratio of sap to syrup for the sugar maple is 40 to 1 (40 gallons of sap yields one gallon of syrup).5
Sugar maple trees grow abundantly in the northeastern United States and is the state tree for New York, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Sugar maples grow to a height of 60-75 feet and a spread of 40-50 feet at maturity. They can grow 12-24 inches a year and can live for over 400 years. The sugar maple leaf can be identified by its five distinct coarsely toothed lobes connected by shallow U-shaped notches. Leaves measure 3-5 inches at maturity, are medium to dark green, and turn yellow, burnt orange, and red in the fall.4
A maple tree should be at least 10-12 inches in diameter before it is tapped for sap. A tree this size would be about 30-40 years old. Tapping a tree does not damage or endanger its health, although it does create a wound. This wound can recover by growing over its tap hole within the next year. Some producers will alternate tapping trees each year. A tree with a 21-27 inch diameter can support two taps, and those with a greater than 27 inch diameter can support three taps. Sugarmakers begin tapping trees in February. A taphole is drilled and a spout is placed in the hole and tapped into place. Most commercial operations attach tubing to the spout, but smaller or historical farms will place a bucket under the spout.
Weather is an important factor for a successful maple syrup harvest. The best weather for production is when the temperature reaches 40 degrees during the day and 20 degrees during the night. This thawing and freezing cycle creates pressure changes inside the tree that causes sap flow. Sugar is stored below ground in the root system over the winter, and pressure changes transfer the sap above the ground. If it is too cold, the sap will take longer to run, and if it is very cold, the sap might not run at all. The average sugaring season (when sap is collected and maple syrup is made) is between 4-6 weeks, but can be as short as two weeks or as long as two months. The best sap is tapped in the early part of the sugaring season.
As the sap flows from a taphole, it is either drawn through tubing to storage tanks in the sugar house using a vacuum or it is collected in buckets and gathered by hand. From the storage tanks, the sap is often put through a reverse osmosis machine which takes some of the water from the sap. The sap is then put into an evaporator where it is boiled. As the water in the sap evaporates, the sap thickens and the sugar caramelizes. When the temperature reaches 219°F, the syrup is ready to be drawn off, filtered, adjusted for density, and graded for flavor and color.6
The first maple syrup production is often credited to the indigenous tribes living in the northeast region of the United States. It is believed that the early European explorers learned the technique for making syrup from the Native Americans. There are many legends about the first discovery of maple syrup. The Legend of Chief Woksis is an Iroquois legend about how maple sap was accidentally boiled down to discover maple syrup.
There are many ways to enjoy maple syrup. It is most often poured over the top of pancakes, waffles, French toast, or oatmeal and is also used in baking. When shopping in the grocery store, be sure to recognize the difference between pure maple syrup (made from the sap of a maple tree) and table syrup (made from artificial flavors).
Interest Approach – Engagement
- Provide the students with a sample of maple syrup (without telling them what the sample is) to observe. Encourage them to taste it and consider how they would describe it, name it, and use it. Ask the students to think about how it was made.
- Organize the students into pairs. Invite the students to work together to create a digital recording or video of their observations and inquiry ideas using Seesaw or an iPad or tablet. Their recording should:
- Show a picture of their sample.
- Record their voice explaining their observations and ideas about maple syrup, its uses, and its origin. They will share their video with another group to compare observations and ideas, and brainstorm more details about their sample.
- Identify the sample as maple syrup. Using the K-W-L Charts instructions, create a class K-W-L chart about maple syrup.
Activity 1: Sugar Snow
- Read the book Sugar Snow by Laura Ingalls Wilder to the class.
- Ask the following questions to help students recall Pa’s information about how the maple syrup was made.
- In what season did the story take place? (Winter turning into spring.)
- What was the weather like the morning Pa left for Grandpa’s house? (snowy)
- Why did Pa call it a sugar snow? (Snow at the beginning of spring helps the maple trees make more sap that can be made into syrup.)
- How is sap made into syrup? (Grandpa boiled the sap in a big iron kettle.)
- Where did the sap come from? (From small holes that Grandpa drilled into the maple trees.)
- Show the students the soil samples—sandy or clayey soil; dark, wet soil; and rocky soil. Have the students feel and observe the different soil samples and predict which soil they think would be best for growing maple trees by placing a sticky note with their initials on the tub they choose. Clarify that maple trees grow best in sandy or clayey soil that is well-drained and loose. Compare the sandy or clayey soil to the soil in your area. Is it similar or different?
- Using the information from the Background Agricultural Connections, discuss what kind of climate and temperatures are best for collecting sap for maple syrup. Ask the students if the climate where they live is similar or different from the climate needed for harvesting sap from maple trees.
- Ask the students, “Would our climate and soil be good for making maple syrup? Why or why not?”
- Review what was learned about maple syrup and have students share their connections and suggest any new ideas they want added to the K-W-L chart from the Interest Approach — Engagement.
Activity 2: Sugar Maples
- Using the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service maps, identify where sugar maple, black maple, red maple, silver maple, and box elder trees grow in the United States. Determine which maple trees grow in your state.
- Organize the class into groups of 2-3 students. Provide each group with leaves from sugar maple, black maple, red maple, silver maple, and box elder trees and the Maple Tree Labels. Use either real leaves that you have collected or the Maple Tree Leaves drawings. Ask the groups to match each leaf with the type of maple tree and review their matches as a class.
- Ask the students which maple tree they think is most often used for harvesting sap to make maple syrup. Clarify that although maple syrup can be made from the sap of any maple tree species, most maple syrup is made from the sap of sugar maples due to its high sugar content.
- Project the Sugar Maple Cross Section photo onto a large screen. Ask the students if they know how to tell how old a tree is. Show the tree rings on the photo and explain that one way to tell the age of a tree is to count the tree rings. Each ring shows a years worth of growth. A sugar maple needs to be between 10-20 inches in diameter before it is ready to be tapped. Trees of that size are usually about 30-40 years old.
- Provide each student with a piece of 12″X18″ brown construction paper, a ruler, and a pair of scissors. Have each student create a tree cross section (also known as a cookie) with a 10-12 inch diameter by measuring and marking a horizontal line 12 inches long in the middle of the paper. Find the center mark on their line (6 inches) and measure and mark a vertical 12” line through that mark (forming a +). Connect the outside points of each line by drawing a curved line between them to make a ring. Cut this out. This “tree cookie” shows the diameter of a sugar maple tree that is ready to be tapped.
- Draw 30-40 tree rings on the tree cookie to represent the age of a tree that is ready to be tapped.
- Review what was learned about sugar maple trees, and have students share their connections and suggest any new ideas they want added to the K-W-L chart from the Interest Approach — Engagement.
Activity 3: Sap to Syrup
- Organize the class into groups of 4-5 students. Provide each group with a set of Sap to Syrup Timeline Cards. Have the groups work together to put the cards in the order they think is correct for making syrup from the sap of a sugar maple tree.
- Show the video How to Make Maple Syrup.
- After viewing the video, allow time for groups to make any necessary adjustments to their timeline. As a class, review the steps and check that the group timeline cards are in the following order:
- Tap a sugar maple tree
- Collect the sap in buckets or in tubes
- Store the sap in a storage tank in the sugar house
- Boil the sap to let the water evaporate and create syrup
- Filter the syrup
- Bottle the maple syrup
- Review what was learned about making maple syrup, and have students share their connections and suggest any new ideas they want added to the K-W-L chart from the Interest Approach — Engagement.
Concept Evaluation and Elaboration
After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:
- Maple syrup is made from the sap of maple trees.
- The sap of maple trees is harvested in late winter/early spring.
- To make maple syrup, the sap is boiled to let the water evaporate.
We welcome your feedback! Please take a minute to tell us how to make this lesson better or to give us a few gold stars!
Contact a local nature center, naturalist, or maple syrup producer to follow-up with a presentation showing a sap sample, tools used, and share more details about the production and use of maple syrup. Schedule a visit to a site to experience tapping trees firsthand.
A legend is a very old, unverifiable story passed down from one generation to the next. Share The Legend of Chief Woksis, an Iroquois legend about the discovery of maple syrup, with the class. Ask the students if they think the story could have actually taken place.
Conduct a taste test to compare pure maple syrup to other types of syrup available for purchase at local grocery stores. Look at the ingredients listed on the labels to compare and contrast.
Suggested Companion Resources
- At Grandpa’s Sugar Bush (Book)
- Maple Syrup from the Sugarhouse (Book)
- Sugar Snow (Book)
- Sugarbush Spring (Book)
- Sugaring (Book)
Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom
- Agricultural Literacy Outcomes
- Education Content Standards
- Common Core Connections
Agricultural Literacy Outcomes
Agriculture and the Environment
- Identify natural resources (T1.K-2.c)
- Provide examples of how weather patterns affect plant and animal growth for food (T1.K-2.d)
Plants and Animals for Food, Fiber & Energy
- Explain how farmers work with the lifecycle of plants and animals (planting/breeding) to harvest a crop (T2.K-2.a)
- Identify examples of feed/food products eaten by animals and people (T2.K-2.c)
Education Content Standards
K-4 Geography Standard 14: How human actions modify the physical environment.
- Objective 1 Objective 1 People modify the physical environment.
K-4 Geography Standard 16: The changes that occur in the meaning, use, distribution, and importance of resources.
- Objective 1 Objective 1 The characteristics of renewable, nonrenewable, and flow resources.
- Objective 3 Objective 3 The sustainable use of resources in daily life.
K-4 Geography Standard 1: How to use maps and other geographic representations, geospatial technologies, and spatial thinking to understand and communicate information.
- Objective 1 Objective 1 Properties and functions of geographic representations—such as maps, globes, graphs, diagrams, aerial and other photographs, remotely sensed images, and geographic visualizations.
- Objective 4 Objective 4 The interpretation of geographic representations.
K-4 Geography Standard 8: The characteristics and spatial distribution of ecosystems and biomes on Earth’s surface.
- Objective 2 Objective 2 The characteristics of ecosystems.
K-ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
- K-ESS3-1 K-ESS3-1 Use a model to represent the relationship between the needs of different plants or animals (including humans) and the places they live.
Common Core Connections
Reading: Anchor Standards
Mathematics: Practice Standards
- CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP5 CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP5 Use appropriate tools strategically. Students consider the available tools when solving a mathematical problem. These tools might include pencil and paper, concrete models, a ruler, a protractor, a calculator, a spreadsheet, a computer algebra system, a statistical package, or dynamic geometry software. Students at various grade levels are able to identify relevant external mathematical resources, such as digital content located on a website, and use them to pose or solve problems. They are able to use technological tools to explore and deepen their understandings of concepts.
Natural Latex Rubber
The blood of the tree is the sap. It is composed of water, mineral elements, hormones and other nutrients. Sap has many uses throughout history. When we hear the word sap we mostly think of maple syrup from the maple tree but what else do we use the sap of trees for?
As tree sap flows through the sapwood part of the tree, it produces carbon dioxide. This creates positive pressure and if there are any wounds or holes in the sapwood, the sap will ooze out. This is how harvesting saps from trees is achieved; cut or create a hole
or wound in a tree and the pressure will push the sap out where it can be collected.
Image via Wikipedia
Well, technically the compounds that produce such products as latex and natural rubber are not really tree sap as xylem sap is mostly water with necessary hormones, minerals and nutrients to feed the tree. The resin exuded from trees to make latex is a defense mechanism, not one or sustenance of the tree.
There are two types of tree sap, xylem and phloem. The main difference is that phloem carries sugars in addition to hormones, minerals and the like for the purpose of simple observation, any liquid that flows or oozes from the tree we call sap and understand what it meant.
Adhesives, Medical Dressings
The boiled-down sap became a sticky tar-like substance that was used for waterproofing and gluing things together. Wound dressings were also a use for this tree-sap tar. The astringent qualities helped keep the wound from getting bacterial infections although the people at that time only knew that it helped in healing, and not why it worked.
Solvents and Thinners
The terpenoids from evergreen trees when concentrated becomes a valuable solvent. Turpentine is a product made from the rendered-down sap of evergreen trees and pine cleaning products benefit from the solvent action of the terpenoids. -And it leaves a clean, fresh scent!
Pine sap can be used to make a nice old fashioned chewing gum that is actually healthy for your teeth. Actually, any gum is healthy for your teeth and it cleans any residual food particles and keeps the mouth moist. This elevated moistness helps to rebuild calcium in the teeth and the salivation of the mouth aids digestion in the stomach as well. Chewing a stick of gum for 20 minutes after a meal will help you to digest the food for effectively.
Image via Wikipedia
sap can harden and turn into a gemstone of amazing beauty. Sometimes, insects from millions of years ago became trapped in the sticky tree sap and were fossilized too. Amber with insects and even small amphibians are highly prized by scientists, museums and collectors. Amber has a warm quality to it and it purported to have almost mystical properties to it. To hold a apiece of amber in your hand it is undeniable; there is a life-sharing quality to it.
Tapped and used for medicinal purposes, birch sap can be drunk as-is from the tree or boiled down to make a tonic said to be beneficial for arthritis relief, a source of Vitamin-C for sufferers of scurvy, and as a laxative and diuretic.
Image via Wikipedia
Considerably less sweet than maple sap (shown above, and below,) the sap of birch can be added to maple sap and boiled into the familiar maple syrup that is good for the relief of stomach cramps.
Image via Wikipedia
(Above: maple tree sap being rendered down into maple syrup)
Fermented, the birch sap can be made into wine or birch beer. We are all familiar with the birch beer flavored soda pop.
These are just some of the many varied uses of different forms of tree sap.
Is There a Difference Between Tree Sap and Tree Resin?
Indianapolis Tree Service 317-783-2518
All trees produce a “sap”, to some degree. Tree sap is a translucent, thin, watery, slightly amber colored substance (just a tad little thinner than standard honey) that develops within the xylem and phloem cells of the trees. These cells are responsible for transporting water and nutrients throughout the tree, and carry water, hormones, sugar, and other minerals elements.
As a result, sap contains sugar and water, and extracted from trees using buckets and spiles. Maple syrup comes from the sap of Maple trees. A tree uses sap in two ways; they either: 1) pull sap from the water in the soil, transport it up through its trunk, and send it out through its leaf pores (stomata), or 2) sap flows down off of the leaves, towards the roots and other parts of the tree, because it contains the vital sugar (food) the tree synthesized in its leaves during photosynthesis.
Also known as “pitch”, tree resin is thicker, tackier, and darker than tree sap. Deciduous trees do not make resin; it is only produced by trees that belong to the Pinaceae family, such as pine, fir, and cedar. Resin forms in the outer cells of the trees, also known as the inner and outer bark. Outer bark is also known as the phloem. You can make a cut into a resin-producing tree, and see the resin ooze out of the bark. The resin is meant to work like a scab; it closes up the wound and protects it from outer elements while it heals.
Resin is sticky and clear, and composed differently than tree sap. It is composed of compounds secreted by or deposited in the tree and sometimes contains high levels of chemical properties. For this reason, it is used for a variety of commercial and industrial applications; maple syrup is not one of them. Resin is used to manufacture commodities like ink, lacquer, varnish, jewelry perfumes, and many other commercial products.
Indianapolis Tree Service
Call Complete Tree Care at 317-783-2518 for Indianapolis tree service you can trust. We are highly trained and experienced tree care technicians that offer commercial and residential tree services at affordable prices. Request an estimate or advice anytime. Call 317-783-2518 to learn more about tree care in Indianapolis, IN today.
Indianapolis Tree Care 317-783-2518
Harvesting Sap from Trees: Reaping the Benefits of Natural Medicine
It may come as a surprise, but sap is the most valuable product you can harvest from a tree.
Usually when trees are thought of as resources, the first thing to come to mind is a tree being cut down for its wood for building, carving, and paper products. However, the sap that courses through a tree can be highly beneficial. Maple, birch, and walnut saps are regarded for their healthy properties that include minerals, enzymes, antioxidants, and nutrients to name a few. Other tree saps are important as well, such as pine sap, which can be harvested and used for homeopathic remedies and even natural chews. There are a variety of trees that yield useful sap that can benefit your home and family.
Best Types of Tree Sap and How to Use Them
Once stated before, pine sap is a wonder sap. Pine trees secrete resin as a defense mechanism. This sap begins as a golden liquid, and eventually hardens into solid amber. Often times, you can find pieces of amber with perfectly preserved insects inside them, which should give an idea to the properties of pine sap.
This wonder sap can be used as a self-aid to treat wounds, stop bleeding and treat rashes. It is a natural antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and astringent that treats and bandages wounds like a two-for-one. The softer sap can even be chewed like gum for colds and sore throats.
Pine sap can also serve as a waterproofing for seams in boots, boats, and containers. It was used in the olden days by Indians to waterproof canoes and patch their teepees. Despite its waterproofing abilities, dried globs of the resin can be used as a fire starter in wet conditions.
Birch tree water or sap is considered one of the best juices to drink. Slightly sweet and with the consistency of thin syrup, it contains xylitol sugars, proteins, enzymes, and amino acids. Birch also has amazing healing properties, detox effects, and benefits for certain organs in the body, such as the liver and kidneys. Also, birch cellulite oil is reported to help eliminate cellulite over time.
Maple syrup for biscuits and pancakes may be the first to come to mind, but purely extracted maple sap has been proven to improve osteoporosis-like symptoms, prevent the formation of gastric ulcers, and even lower blood pressure and prevent hangovers.
Harvesting Tree Sap Made Simple
Harvesting sap is a weather-specific ordeal. Sap is gathered the easiest when it “runs,” which is when the daytime temperatures are between 32 and 45 degrees, but the nights are below freezing. A tree is only best to harvest at certain diameters and heights, so research is (again) important before you begin trying to tap your tree. Drill a hole into your tree using a bit size recommended for your spile. Once your hole is started, insert the spile at a downward angle and gently tap the tapered end in with a hammer. If the sap is running, a drop will appear at the tip of the spile. Hang a covered collection bucket from the spile. Sap can be harvested once per day. Once the collection season has ended, removed the spile with a pair of pliers by twisting gently and pulling the it straight out. Harvested sap can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week, or it can be frozen. Drink it straight or use it as a replacement for water when brewing coffee or tea.
Research the trees in your own backyard to see what medicinal or practical benefits you can find use for. Your trees can offer you so much more than just shade and a beautiful landscape. For more information about harvesting sap or tree care services contact Trees Unlimited today!
About the author
It’s doubtful you’ll find anyone with more of a passion for tree care than Justin Shaw. To him, removing a tree is always the very last resort no matter how difficult and challenging the effort to preserve it. Though he has degrees in finance and economics, Justin decided to follow his passion and with an additional degree in urban tree management, launched Trees Unlimited, LLC in Wayne, NJ. Justin is also a Certified Arborist and Certified Tree Safety Professional.
What Is Tree Sap?
Most people know what is tree sap but not necessarily the more scientific definition. For instance, tree sap is the fluid transported in xylem cells of a tree.
What Does Tree Sap Contain?
Many people are startled by the sight of sap on their tree. They may wonder what is tree sap and what does tree sap contain? Xylem sap consists primarily of water, along with hormones, minerals, and nutrients. Phloem sap consists primarily of water, in addition to sugar, hormones, and mineral elements dissolved within it.
Tree sap flows through sapwood, which produces carbon dioxide. Sometimes this carbon dioxide causes pressure to build up within the tree. If there are any wounds or openings, this pressure will eventually force the tree sap to ooze from the tree.
Oozing tree sap can also be heat related. In early spring, while many trees are still dormant, the fluctuation of temperatures may
affect the flow of tree sap. For instance, warmer weather produces pressure within the tree. This pressure can sometimes cause the tree sap to flow from the tree through openings produced from cracks or injury.
During cold weather, when temperatures fall below freezing, the tree pulls water up through the roots, replenishing the tree sap. This cycle is continues until the weather stabilizes and is quite normal.
Tree Sap Problems
Sometimes trees suffer from unnatural blistering or oozing of sap, which may be caused by numerous things such as disease, fungus, or pests. On average, however, trees do not typically leak sap unless damaged in some way.
- Bacterial Canker is a disease afflicting trees that have been previously injured by impact, pruning, or cracks from freezing, allowing bacteria to penetrate the tree through these openings. Bacteria cause the tree to produce abnormally high sap pressure, which forces fermented sap out to flow from cracks or openings of the infected tree. Affected trees may have wilt or dieback on the branches.
- Slime flux is another bacterial problem characterized by tree sap oozing. Sour-smelling, slimy-looking sap leaks from cracks or wounds on the tree, turning gray as it dries.
- Root rot fungus generally occurs when either the trunk of the tree is too moist from water hitting it or the soil has been overly saturated for an extended period.
- Insect pests, like borers, are often attracted to tree sap. Fruit trees are most likely afflicted with borers. Borers may be present if there is a noticeable gummy-like sap oozing at the top of dying bark and sawdust at the base of the tree.
Tree sap can also be difficult to remove. Read about how to remove tree sap.
The Trees to Avoid if You Don’t Want Sap on Your Car
Trees always add an element of natural beauty to your property. There’s nothing better than their changing leaves in the fall, but with changing seasons comes another factor to keep in mind: sap. Depending on where you plant, trees with a lot of sap can be a problem for your property. The number one concern is your car. If sap gets on your car it could incur some damage, so below is a comprehensive list to avoid tree sap and what to do to prevent your tree from becoming a sappy mess.
Which Trees Produce The Most Sap?
Unless you have a plan to start tapping your own syrup, these trees are the ones to avoid when it comes to sap. The largest group of sappy trees is the maple trees. This species produces a sugary sap that is commonly used to make the same maple syrup you douse on your pancakes on Saturday morning.
There are several kinds to avoid if you don’t want your car or property to be covered in sap. These are the top culprits to watch out for before you park: sugar maple, black maple, red maple, silver maple, Norway maple, boxelder, bigleaf maple, canyon maple, rocky mountain maple, and gorosoe. These maple trees produce varying degrees of sugary sap and can all be tapped for syrup.
The next group is the walnuts trees, which includes: butternut, black walnut, heartnut, and the English walnut. These trees also produce a sugary sap, but in fewer quantities than maples trees.
The final category is the birch trees which include the paper birch, yellow birch, black birch, river birch, gray birch, and the European white birch. While less sugary, the birch trees can also have their sap tapped for consumption.
If you’re looking for trees to avoid when it comes to your car, it’s safe to say that most maples, walnut trees, and birch trees should be avoided.
Which Trees Produce Less Sap?
All trees produce sap in one form or another, but there are trees that produce a lot less sap. The number one tree is the English oak. Overall the oak does not produce much sap, but it also is resistant to sap-inducing diseases, as well as pests that could cause more sap.
The same is true with the Japanese snowdrop tree, which can grow up to 25 feet with blossoms. This tree is also good at repelling diseases and pests. While all trees produce sap, you can choose trees that will limit the amount of sap that can get onto your property.
How To Prevent Sappy Trees?
Sap is a naturally occurring residue found in trees, but it can quickly become a hassle for any gardener. While all trees form sap, there are steps you can take to make sure you don’t get too much.
The first sap-inducer is pests. For example, the bark beetle lays its eggs beneath the tree bark. Once they hatch, they burrow holes into the tree. The tree combats this by producing more sap to fill the holes. An insecticide can manage these pests, but it’s important to get the advice of a professional so no harm comes to the tree.
There are also pests that feed on the sap of trees and as a result release a substance called honeydew. While it looks like sap, it isn’t. Honeydew increases the chances of infection in the trees. Honeydew is one of the many substances that can cause trees to release more sap.
Other diseases include bacterial infections and fungi. These all cause trees to go into sap producing overdrive and release more into its wounds as a form of protection.
Another tactic for prevention is correct pruning. If a tree is pruned at the wrong time or incorrectly, sap is released to protect the area. If pruning is done in the dormant season, there is less likelihood of the tree over producing sap. To make sure that the job is done correctly, it’s best to bring in a professional who knows the correct care for your trees.
What To Do If Sap Gets On Your Car?
Tree sap that gets on your car will not immediately damage the paint. However, over time tree sap can go through the clear coat and begin to damage the paint beneath, leading to discoloration and staining.
If you do see that sap has gotten onto your vehicle, the first step is to wash and dry your car to get as much of the sap off. The next step is to use a remover solution. This can be a tar remover, bug remover or if you can find it, a sap remover, through rubbing alcohol is known to work as well.
Whichever solution you prefer, take that and dab a few drops onto a washcloth, then leave the cloth on top of the area with the sap for thirty seconds. Next, rub the area until the sap is gone. This may need to be repeated a few times. If there are a few spots remaining, gently scrape off the rest. Once the sap is removed, spray the area with polishing wax. Through these steps, you should be able to safely remove tree sap from your car without damaging, but use caution and test a small area first to ensure you’ve chosen the best solution for your vehicle.
If tree sap is a problem in your yard, the first step is to identify the tree. If the tree is a maple or other trees that are tapped for their syrup, this may be a naturally occurring sap. At which time you’ll have to decide if it’s worth removing the tree from your property or simply adjusting your habits, like parking your car elsewhere.
However, if the tree becomes too much of a hassle, you can opt to have the tree removed by a professional and plant a tree that won’t cause damage to your property instead.
On the other hand, if the tree is not known for sap production, your tree may be sick. This is the perfect time to call for your local experts like us at Vernon Imel Tree Service.
Thankfully, if you keep your trees healthy, with regular pruning and care, sap shouldn’t be a problem for your car and property.