First sap tree park in the world!
In May 2018, with financial support from the Municipality of Smiltene, we began to plant the world’s first sap tree park which in the future will offer its guest to view around 32 different types of birch, maple and walnut trees, all of which give sap during spring time.
As the first ones we planted 100 sugar maple trees (Acer saccharum) that form the „sugar alley” of the park. The tree is originated in North America, where sugar maples are widely used for harvesting maple sap. The leaf of this tree is a Canadian symbol (also depicted on the Canadian flag).
Around 200 European white birch trees (Betula pendula Roth) and approximately 200 downy birch, also known as moor birch (Betula pubescens Ehrh).
Both of these birch tree types are widely growing in Latvia. Visually, they are relatively easy to distinguish by the shape of their branches. European white birch tree has low hanging branches while moor birch tree’s branches grow upwards.
Around 100 trees of black walnut (Juglans nigra) where planted as well. Often black walnut is used as a large-sized greenery tree. It can grow up to 20 meters long with round shaped fruits that get up to five centimeters wide. Its’ natural habitat is Central and Western climate zones and it originates from North America. The tree has green, 25-50 cm long leaves. The shell of the black walnut fruit is thicker, harder to break and the nut has a peculiar, sharper flavor. But the sap on the other hand is as sweet as maple tree’s only the amount of it is 2-3 times less. Lemon-nutty flavor makes this sap especially tasty.
In park you will also find Silver maples (Acer saccharinum) .
Alongside the park we kept around 10 large Norwegian maple trees (Acer platanoides L.). We plan to plant 100 more of these maple trees in the future. Sugar maple trees give sap that has a sugar concentration up to 3% while regular (Norvegian) maple tree’s sap sugar concentration is up to 2%.
In 2020 we planted also Acer tegmentosum, and Juglans regia. Acer tegmentosum is a species of deciduous tree in the maple genus, which is natively found in the south of the Russian Far East, northeastern China and in Korea.
It can reach a height of 10–15 metres (33–49 ft) and a spread of 8 metres (26 ft), with greenish-grey bark with bright white stripes.
Juglans regia is a large, deciduous tree attaining heights of 25–35 m (80 to 120 ft), and a trunk up to 2 m (6 ft) diameter, commonly with a short trunk and broad crown, though taller and narrower in dense forest competition. It is a light-demanding species, requiring full sun to grow well.
The bark is smooth, olive-brown when young and silvery-grey on older branches, and features scattered broad fissures with a rougher texture. The whole fruit, including the husk, falls in autumn; the seed is large, with a relatively thin shell, and edible, with a rich flavour.
At the beginning trees will be available just for viewing as they need around 15 years to grow to the size they can be tapped for sap. Creation of a sap tree park is actually a lifetime process because we plan to enrich and improve it every year.
In the future the park will be a place where visitors can come and see the red, yellow, black birch trees and different walnut trees as well as more than 10 types of maple trees that grow in our climate zone and taste their sap too 🙂