What is Tree Sap?

Do you remember running around when you were a kid, looking for trees to climb? You would begin your ascent then soon realize all of your fingers are stuck together and your clothes are ruined. You leaned in closely to see that the tree was leaking something that looked like pancake syrup. That’s tree sap! But how and why?

How it’s Made

Tree sap is actually two separate substances lumped together under the label of “sap.” The first substance, Xylem, transfers the minerals, hormones and water up from the bottom of the tree.

The rings that you see formed on a tree stump are formed from the Xylem channels! Every ring equals about one year of life for the tree. The other substance is Phloem. This is the sticky stuff we come in contact with when working around trees. It plays a major part in helping the tree grow.

Why Tree Sap is Helpful

Tree sap is filled with nutrients and minerals. This sticky liquid runs through the tree and down to the branches to help generate energy while new buds are forming during springtime. Due to photosynthesis, sugars are created which are fed back into the tree and acts as food for the tree during its growth period. However, while tree sap pays a major part in tree health, it can actually be an indicator that a tree is sick. When sap is leaking on the bark, it can mean that the tree is showing signs of damage, pests, or disease. The bark beetle is most commonly responsible for these issues. Ask us about our pest prevention services to protect your trees.

How it Tastes

The Sugar Maple is a very popular sap producing tree. Its sap has a 2% sugar content and when tapped in early Spring, can produce as much as 15 gallons of sap! Experienced maple tappers can collect up to 80 gallons from one tree in a year. As the temperature continues to rise, sap will flow more freely out of any holes in the tree and stop when temperatures drop at night.  It takes 30 to 40 gallons of tree sap to produce just 1 gallon of pancake syrup. Something to think about next time you are sitting at the table with a pile of flapjacks!

Removing Sap from Clothes, Skin, and Other Items

Remember these tips next time you are decorating your Christmas tree. Sap can get all over your hands and clothes even when you are trying to be careful! When you notice it, clean it immediately. Once it hardens, it will be more difficult to remove. To remove it from skin, rub it with nail polish remover on it, then wash with soap and water. If you are unfortunate enough to get it in your hair, coat your hair with peanut butter and massage it loose before washing. For clothing, use rubbing alcohol on the affected area, then put the item through a warm wash. Tree sap can be a nuisance or a delicious treat, but it is vital to our trees. Check on your trees for any unusual leaks and consider the sap activity when deciding to trim. When that time comes, give us a call! Our team is ready to help!