The Science Behind Maple Tree Sap

The Sweet Science of Why Maple Trees Produce Sap

Maple trees are true marvels of mother nature.

We’re talking tiny seeds that sprout into massive trees that produce sap that we then use to make food. Pretty sweet science right there…at least our crew of maple masters likes to think so.

But ever wonder just how exactly maple trees produce sap or how the sap itself travels through a tree? It’s pretty crazy to think about.

Even crazier – ever thought about the lucky guy or gal who just happened to figure out that you could extract this liquid gold straight from the tree? Mind blown.

We did some digging on the interwebs and found a few answers to these sappy questions.

Who Discovered Sap?

Legends of how mankind came to discover sap vary, however, much of the lore gives credit to Native Americans for being the first to find the sweet tree nectar of the maples. The exact manner of how they discovered is still very much up for debate, however.

One legend has the chief of a tribe throwing a tomahawk into a maple tree and noticing the liquid starting to seep out. Sounds cool enough.

Another theory involves Native Americans just accidentally stumbling across “sapsicles” running from a broken maple tree branch. Perhaps.

And of course, there’s a story that surrounds a god named NenawBozhoo, who legend has it was tired of watching his people lazily sip pure maple syrup from the tree, and instead placed a magic spell on the maple trees that turned the syrup into a watery sap that required processing before it could be consumed. Ummmmm.

The first piece of written evidence we have on the existence of sap in North America comes from French explorer André Thévet, who in 1557 wrote:

“There is a tree with the thickness and shape of a large walnut tree … It remained unused for a long time until someone tried to cut one down, releasing a kind of sugar, which they found to be as tasty and as delicate as any good wine from Orleans or Beaune.”

So as you can see, the history of sap isn’t super defined, but it’s still pretty sweet.

And while history is cool and all, let’s be honest. Nothing beats the sweet science behind why and how sap exists in the first place. We’re talking super-powered ice crystals here people. Yup!

The Science Behind Sap

Many folks assume maple sap flows from the tree’s roots on warms days, but it’s actually the other way around.

When the sap flows (think a cold night followed by warm spring day) it actually flows down from the maple tree branches to any given spout. And it doesn’t just flow one way either; sap is known to flow back and forth laterally through the tree as well. So yeah, trees are pretty much just like us humans, only with sweet sappy blood flowing through their veins.

The scientific reason sap flows from the branches downward is because of something known as Maple Sap Exudation. A well-recognized research paper called Maple Sap Exudation: How it Happens written by Melvin Tyree and published in the Maple Syrup Journal in 1984 gives further insight into how this all happens:

“The sap that is sucked up through the portions of the sapwood not yet frozen adds to the ice crystals growing in the colder parts of the tree. If the temperature rises above freezing the next day, the frozen sap melts and falls down the tree under gravity and it is also given a little bit of a shove by compressed air bubbles…”

Unlike other tree species that suck sap up when it warms and push sap out when it freezes, maple trees actually end up doing the exact opposite, according to Tyree’s paper.

This explains why maple trees don’t force out sap in the freezing temperatures like other trees. ­

The reason for this anomaly, Tyree writes, has much to do with the unique properties of maple sapwood. While the sapwood of other trees consists of water conduits that fill up with water, maple trees conduits are filled with gas.

“So when maple branches begin to freeze, frost begins to form inside the gas-filled spaces of the wood fibers much like frost will form on the inside of the windows of your home on a cold night. Water contributing to the frost comes from the water conduits and is replaced by the same kind of capillary forces that causes water to flow into sponges.”

So there you have it…sap science at its simplest.

For more info about the marvel of maple and all of the work we do to understand them and preserve these majestic trees, visit our Sappy Trees page.

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Maple Martini

Hosting a party and want to offer your guests a sophisticatedly sweet adult beverage option? Make this sweet martini!

Enjoy our martini recipe with some SAPJACK Vanilla maple syrup and you and your friends can pretend like you’re in Sex in the City all night long.

Maple Chai Latte

What do you say when someone offers you a deliciously warm drink made with maple? Thanks a latte!

Lick your lips this winter season with this chai recipe mixed with SAPJACK Grade A Golden maple syrup.

Maple Manhattan

This classy concoction is a true favorite — so you best get your bitters and grab your garnish for that upcoming dinner party.

Your crew will love this sweet drink made with SAPJACK Bourbon Aged maple syrup, but not as much as your constant Cousin Eddie quotes.

Iced Maple Latte

Hosting a holiday brunch for your buds and want to offer up something sweet and caffeinated?

Look no further than this sweet iced latte made with SAPJACK Cinnamon maple syrup. It’s the perfect way to start the day of last-minute gift shopping.



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It’s the Sappiest Day of the Year for our crew up in Island Pond, VT.

Each and every year around this time our crew gets together to celebrate the sweetest day of the year.

Yup – that’s right. It’s National Maple Syrup Day — a day where we celebrate how the trees grow and the sap flows. Where hugging a tree is totally normal and getting a little sappy is A-OK.   

And since it is THE DAY where we all should rejoice in the sweet wonderment that is maple syrup, our crew wants you to get in on some of the fun by doing one, some, or ALL of these sweet things to celebrate!

5 Sweet Ways to Celebrate National Maple Syrup Day

1. Have a Hearty Breakfast

It goes without saying that you’re going to want to get your National Maple Syrup Day celebration off to a good start with a hearty breakfast.

Our crew likes to dig into a triple platter of pancakes, waffles, and French toast —yeah, all of it — lovingly topped with the true taste of the forest.

2. Hug a Maple

After you consume your mountain of food, tastefully drenched in pure maple syrup, of course, the next thing you’ll want to do is get outside and head for your nearest forest.

Once in the woods, find a sugar maple and wrap your loving arms around it. Some of us do this on a regular basis; not just on National Maple Syrup Day.

3. Pour Some Out

Hopefully, if you’ve decided to celebrate National Maple Syrup Day then you know the difference between table syrup and pure maple syrup.

So, on this day of all days, do us a favor and pour out some of that pancake syrup that we know is buried in your fridge and replace it with some single-source goodness.

4. Go for a Walk in the Woods

Maple syrup wouldn’t exist if wasn’t for the woods…so do yourself a favor and go for a long walk.

Our crew does about six miles a day when sap season is in full swing. And be sure to take your time and bask in the many tree species and wildlife — we’re really lucky to have the wilderness.

5. Make SupperTime Sweet

The day is done and you’re wiped from a wonderful time in the woods and appreciating all things maple syrup.

The last item on your list of ways to celebrate National Maple Syrup Day should be whipping up something sweet & delicious! We’re talking Maple Glazed Chicken, Maple Salmon, or even Maple Roasted Butternut Squash. Sappy Cooking!

Have a Sappy National Maple Syrup Day!

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There’s syrup and then there’s pure maple syrup. Hopefully, by now you know which one is better.

But just in case you need any more reasons why pure maple syrup is the sultan of syrups, our crew has come up with a whole list of reasons for keeping this sweet stuff in your life.

From obvious health perks to a little peace of mind, the benefits of pure maple syrup go beyond just improving what’s on your plate. Pure maple can truly make you sappy.

We consider it truly special nectar straight from the trees and our crew is fortunate to get to taste each and every day. Of course, we may be a little bias.

Either way, here are all the reasons you should consider pouring pure maple into your life more often:


1. It’s nutritious, and loaded with essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and more. You know the stuff that keeps your body sappy.

2. It goes great with wings. The food, not the band.

3. It’s about as natural as it gets….no preservatives or additives.

4. It’s loaded with natural antioxidants that can keep you amped and reduce oxidative stress in the body…#sappyscience.

5. It’s a great sugar substitute for all you coffee-lovers out there.

6. It’s the perfect pairing with pancakes so that you have the energy to start your day off strong.

7. It’s about as farm-to-table as it gets…or is it tree-to-table?

8. It’s a proven immunity booster. So you can stay feeling sweet and healthy.

9. It’s known to help prevent not-so-sappy diseases like arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, or heart disease.

10. It’s good for the skin…seriously.

11. It can be made into candy.

12. It’s easy to digest.

13. It contains amino acids, so it’s literally fuel for your body.

14. One word…electrolytes. Yup.

15. It’s got a pretty sweet shelf life. (SAPJACK syrup lasts two years)

16. It’s organic. Duh.

17. It takes real people to produce. Our crew works year-round both inside and outside.

18. It’s a natural resource.

19. It won’t freeze.

20. It goes great in cocktails. Who’s ready for sappy hour?

21. It contains manganese, which can help support healthy muscles.

22. It goes great over some ice cream.

23. You can have it for almost every meal of the day…including dinner.

24. Most other maple is made from corn syrup. Not ours.

25. It’s only made in certain parts of North America…so you know it’s special.

Like our sweet list? Check out the crew that came up with it!


[post_title] => 25 Sweet Benefits of Pure Maple Syrup [post_excerpt] => Pure maple syrup offers many benefits. Not only is it healthy, but it’s also a really great natural substitute for sugar. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => 25-sweet-benefits-of-pure-maple-syrup [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2022-01-19 10:47:23 [post_modified_gmt] => 2022-01-19 15:47:23 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) ) -->