Wild Things: Forest Preserve Gives You a Chance to Get Sticky

Fullersburg Woods Nature Education Center Naturalist Abby Dean tells us why trees produce sap in early spring on Wild Things on WDCB. 

Abby’s Radio Notes: Science Behind Maple Tree Sap Production
Trees store energy in their roots and stems in the form of starches over the winter. When temperatures drop below freezing during the night then rise above freezing the following day — known as positive and negative pressure cycling — the starches are converted to sugars. The sugar provides the tree an extra boost for the spring growing season.

Maple season lasts approximately six weeks. When the temps no longer dip below freezing at night or the trees start to blossom, the season is over.

Maple sap is 99 percent water and 1 percent sugar. Maple syrup is approximately 66 percent sugar.

It takes an average of 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.

During the process of cooking sap, water evaporates and sugars caramelize to give maple syrup its brown color. Amino acids give the syrup its distinct maple flavor.

Question: Does taking sap from a tree damage it?
Answer: Collecting sap should not hurt a tree if it is a minimum of 10 inches in diameter.


Take a 75-minute guided stroll through the woods and discover the sweet secret of turning tree sap into syrup at “Get Sticky! Maple Syrup Sunday” on March 13 from 10 a.m. ‒2 p.m. at Fullersburg Woods Nature Education Center.    

See sap collected from Fullersburg Woods' trees made into tasty maple syrup at this popular springtime program. 

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