Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sapcicles!

Posted by Kirk Mona
It's maple syrup season and at the end of the day my co-worker and fellow naturalist Brett spotted these awesome sapcicles. A sapcicle is an icicle made of sap. Members of the maple family have sap flowing on warm days in the spring. The sap flows due to a quirk in the structure of maples and is caused by pressure that builds as the result of the freezing and thawing of water in the tree in the spring.

Box elder trees are members of the maple family and their sap flows too. You can even make maple syrup from box elders. This particular tree has several broken branches that were probably nipped off by squirrels. The sap leaking out of the ends of the branches froze into icicles. These sapcicles taste sweet if you break them off. American Indians were probably the first to encounter sapcicles and this discovery may very well be how humans first clued into how to make maple syrup.


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