We admire trees because of their graceful structure. The tree structure includes the branches, leaves, bark, roots and flowers in some cases which all have their various functions.
But have you ever wondered what’s inside a tree or what keeps it alive? Sap to trees is what blood is to human beings.
It carries nutrients to the different parts of the tree and is considered a normal element in any healthy tree. However, if your tree leaks sap, you should be worried.
Find out why your tree is leaking sap and how you can handle the situation here.
Must Read: 10 Ash Tree Diseases And How To Treat Them
What Is Tree Sap?
Tree sap is the sticky material that runs in the leaves and branches of some trees. It is highly nutritious because it contains minerals and nutrients that the tree needs to be healthy.
Sap is not latex or resin because it is chemically distinct from these. Although tree sap is an indication that a tree is healthy, it can also mean that a tree is damaged or fighting a disease when it begins to leak or drip.
What Causes Excessive Sap To Drip From Trees?
A network of ducts, like the vascular system of animals, transports sap, which contains water and nutrients, from the roots to the rest of the tree. During dormancy, deciduous trees draw most of their sap from the branches and trunk, but in late winter and early spring, sap is drawn back from the roots.
Excess sap leaking from a tree occurs due to improper pruning, mechanical injury, development of canker or insect damage.
A small amount of sap dripping from a cut will not harm a tree. Over time, the sap stops flowing and the cut heals.
However, prolonged and excessive dripping of sap can lead to loss of vitality and susceptibility to pests and disease to the point of death of the tree. You can prevent excess sap from dripping from prunings by pruning for the right length of time, especially when pruning trees known as “bleeders” like maple, birch, and honey locust.
These trees should be pruned when they are dormant, which is usually between early fall and mid-winter. Controlled sap extraction from these trees generally does not harm the trees.
Treatment for pruning damage: A well-pruned tree needs no intervention. In fact, tree or trim color can make the problem worse.
Instead of sealing off infection, dressings seal in moisture in the wound, creating cavities. The tree seals the wound and heals itself.
If you are particularly concerned about your tree, contact a certified arborist to evaluate it and recommend a plan of action.
Mechanical damage to the tree from storms or landscaping equipment can cause the tree to drip excessive sap. Woodpeckers and bark-eating animals can also increase sap dripping.
Lesions and sap drips can attract insect pests and attack fungal diseases. Bacterial wetwood or flux slime causes cracks in the wood of the tree, from which the sap begins to leak.
The flowing sap slowly seeps through the cracks and flows down the bark, robbing the tree of nutrients. When you see a tree bleeding sap, you know there’s a problem and it’s most likely bacterial wetwood.
Slime flux can prevent cracks in the bark from healing and will also prevent the formation of calluses.
Treatment of tree wounds: Slime flux does go away, but should stop after a few weeks or months without permanent damage to the tree. If you are concerned about the appearance of your tree, you can use a 10% bleach and water solution to remove stains on the bark.
Sap oozing from a pine trunk can be an early sign of bark beetle damage. The sap collects near the hole drilled in the bark, and the gel is known as a “pitch tube”.
The pine produces excessive slap to protect itself against the bark beetle. A healthy tree that is not weakened by drought, mechanical injury, or excessive pruning will be able to ward off bugs.
Various species of beetles can infest pine trees. Some beetles also affect other tree species and contribute to the spread of fungal diseases that cause cankers, including oak canker.
Treatment for pest damage: When dealing with pest problems, many factors go into choosing the right plan of action. For example, the type of pest is a determining factor in how best to treat your tree’s infestation, as well as the extent of the infestation or damage.
Consult a certified tree specialist to properly identify your specific pest and recommend a treatment plan based on analysis of your infestation.
Must Read: Why Painting On Tree Pruning Sealer Is A Bad Idea
Cankers, which are lesions on the bark or phloem of trees, is caused by a fungal or bacterial disease. Some cankers excrete a lot of fluid, which can be the first sign of disease.
Many of these bleeding cankers are caused by one or more species of the Phytophthora fungus. Dark brown sap drips from cankers on the lower trunk of mature silver maples and is caused by Phytophthora cactorum and possibly other related fungi.
Sudden oak dieback, caused by the fungus Phytophthora ramorum, also produces bleeding cankers that ooze thick, reddish-black sap. Sudden oak death not only affects oaks, but also deciduous maples (Acer macrophyllum), some firs and other plants.
Fruit trees, and especially citrus fruits, can suffer from gummosis, in which sap oozes from cracks in the infected bark. The infection is also caused by a fungus Phytophthora.
Treatment for fungal cankers: Unfortunately, there aren’t any chemical options available for treating fungal cankers. The only option is to prune the infected parts of the tree.
Deep bark canker on walnut trees is caused by the bacterium Brennaria rubrifaciens. It shows up as reddish and dark brown streaks on the trunk of infected trees.
The infection will not kill the tree, but it can weaken the tree and reduce fruit production.
When To Prune
It is not necessary to prune every tree every year. If the tree is young, you may need to prune it to give it a good footing for the tree’s health.
If the tree is old, it may not need further pruning except to remove dead branches. The sap in the tree begins to rise with warm temperatures from late winter to early spring.
The sap provides the new shoots with water and nutrients so they are ready for spring. As a result, many tree species often release sap when pruned in late winter or early spring, before the leaves are fully developed.
The juice is mostly water with some minerals. Because of the water in the root, it can travel up through the xylem. pressure, and it is greater in spring than at any other time of the year.
If branches are more than 3 inches in diameter, it can cause sap loss problems in spring. Sap loss is not a major concern for tree health, but when sap runs down a trunk or branch it can attract diseases, fungi and harmful insects that eat the sweet ingredients in the sap.
There is no real method to stop the flow of sap from a tree wound, and the bleeding is perfectly harmless in most cases. It is strongly advised that bandaging or wrapping bleeding cuts is avoided but rather allow them to heal naturally, exposed.
The best time to prune these sap-filled trees is after the leaves are hard and dark green in early summer. The sap keeps flowing, but the tree doesn’t dry out because of the lack of water and sugar.
However, it is not good to prune these trees in late summer, as unhealed cuts will begin to bleed in fall and winter once spring arrives. The best way to control sap bleeds is to prune at the right time for that particular species of tree.
Must Read: How Far Apart To Plant Apple Trees? [Necessary Steps]
In general, you should prune deciduous trees in late winter and early spring around February, March, and April.
Trees That Tend To Bleed Sap
Elm trees belong to the elm family and tend to release excessive amounts of sap if the tree’s branches or bark are damaged or injured. Chinese elm (Ulmus parvifolia) grows in Sunset zones 8, 9, and 12 to 24, while the American elm (Ulmus americana) can grow in zones 1 to 11 and 14 to 21.
Birch trees belong to the Betulaceae family and produce a large amount of sap which is harvested for a variety of uses including syrup and beer. River Birch (Betula nigra) grows in Sunset Zones 1a through 24, and Monarch Birch (Betula maximowicziana) grows in Zones 3 through 9 and 14 through 24.
Honey locusts, like elms, (Gleditsia triacanthos) produce excess sap if the plant is damaged or pruned. This self-planting tree can only grow in Sunset Zones 1 to 16 and 18 to 20, but can become invasive.
Maple trees belong to the Aceraceae family and produce excessive amounts of sap. It is this sugar maple (Acer saccharum) sap that is harvested for maple syrup.
Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) can grow in zones 2 through 10, 12 and 14 to 24.Other species worthy of mention are:
Making Use Of Tree Sap
The sap flowing through a tree can be very useful. Maple, birch, and walnut sap are considered to have health-promoting properties that include minerals, enzymes, antioxidants, and nutrients, to name a few.
The sap of other trees is also important, e.g. Pine sap, which can be harvested and used for homeopathic remedies and even natural gum. There are a variety of trees that produce beneficial sap that can benefit your home and family.
Pine sap can be used as a self-help treatment for wounds, stopping bleeding and treating skin rashes. It is a natural antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and astringent that treats and binds wounds like two for one.
The softer sap can even be chewed as gum for colds and sore throats. Fresh extracted maple sap has been shown to improve osteoporosis-like symptoms, prevent stomach ulcers from forming and even lower blood pressure and prevent hangovers.
Research the trees in your own backyard to see what medicinal or practical benefits you can find use for.
How Do I Get Rid Of Leaking Sap?
If you have noticed a few of your trees leaking sap, do well to take the following steps in preventing further loss of sap:
The sap can attract numerous types of pests that can lead to an infestation and ultimately kill your tree. An insecticide can help control a possible infestation.
However, it’s best to consult a certified arborist to properly evaluate, diagnose, and treat your tree, especially when dealing with an infestation.
Prune Your Tree Occasionally
Pruning back small branches that are dripping sap can prevent sap from seeping through. You must be sure to prune during your tree’s dormant season, or you may cause unnecessary stress that could eventually kill your tree.
Check with your local nursery about your tree’s specific needs. Find out the best time of year to prune your tree with the least risk of damage.
Does Leaking Sap Mean My Tree Is Dying?
The running sap seeps out of the cracks slowly and will flow down the bark, robbing the tree of nutrients. A tree with bleeding sap is not a sure indication that it’s going to die.
It simply means it’s been injured and hopefully, something can be done about it before the problem becomes chronic or fatal
Signs a tree is dying:
- Root damage
- Tree leaning
- Heaving soil
- Bark debris
- Rot or fungus
- Insect infestation
- Open wounds
- Brittly branches and stems
- Black lesions on leaves
- Deformed or discolored leaves
- 33 Colorful Houseplants You’ll Love
- 14 Indoor Plants That Grow From Seeds
- 7 True Low-Light Houseplants
- 17 Of The Most Fragrant Houseplants To Grow Indoors
- How To Get Rid Of Centipedes In Houseplants
The amount of sap in the tree varies based on the time of year. In some species, the sap levels are high in early spring so if you attempt to make cuts at that time, the tree may bleed sap. This isn’t usually too much of an issue, but it’s best to avoid it.
Learning when to prune a tree, how to apply insecticides and how to identify bacterial and fungal diseases in trees can help you manage a tree that is leaking sap.
Frequently Asked Questions About Leaking Sap
How Do You Get Sap Off Your Car?
There are a few ways to clean sap stains from your car. Any of these should work perfectly:
Bug and Tar Remover
What Trees Produce Edible Sap?
The trees which produce edible sap are:
When Is The Best Time To Prune “Bleeding” Trees?
The best time to prune trees is in early summer.