Garden center and nursery employees usually hear this question so many times that it becomes almost like a joke: “Do you have any trees that DON’T leak sap?” Unfortunately, those who are looking for a sap-free tree will never be satisfied. Every tree has sap – in fact, it’s the lifeblood of these giants. Proper tree maintenance is the only thing that can prevent this sticky goo from dripping onto cars, sidewalks, and bystanders.
Sap often oozes out of tree wounds as a defensive mechanism. The sap actually helps to seal and protect such wounds from the disease and pests that are attracted to weakened areas. Anything that punctures the bark has the potential to release sap: mower blades, pruning spikes, vehicle damage, natural splitting and cracking, or even pruning. Never attempt to wrap the wound – it may stop the sap, but it invites pests and fungus that can kill the entire tree.
Serious infections like bacterial cankers and root rot fungus can also trigger the sap-dripping effect, usually by increasing sap pressure (think blood-pressure) within the tree. Many cankers and other diseases can be remedied by amateur or professional tree spraying. If there are absolutely no signs of injury or pests, make sure to have an arborist or local tree maintenance service take a look for diagnosis – the cause may be a serious disease.
There are numerous living creatures that can cause a tree to begin pouring sap. Any type of wood borer is likely to spill a bit of tar, but there are many other culprits that are much more difficult to diagnose. Slime flux, certain funguses, and even woodpeckers may be the source of the leaking sap. If the sap seems to “rain” from the tree, then you may actually be seeing something known as honeydew, caused by aphids and other sap-sucking insects.
If you believe that pests may be the source of your tree dripping sap, the problem can be diagnosed and remedied by a certified tree care specialist.
Most homeowners never see sap as being such a big deal: while it may ruin clothing or drip on the car now and again (see how to remove sap from cars here), inappropriate sap leaking can actually turn out to be quite the troublesome ordeal. What seems like a minor inconvenience may end up being an injury, pest, or disease that could eventually damage the structural integrity of your beloved tree. Don’t wait until it’s too late: investigate your leaky tree!