Cherry trees are known to be poisonous and sometimes leak sap. While this can be concerning, it’s helpful to know exactly why cherry trees can ooze sap and what can be done about it.
Cherry trees can leak sap either from injuries, bugs, or diseases. The most common cause is an injury from a lawnmower or weed whacker, but some insects and diseases can also be the cause. In general, the best approach to treat these conditions is to help maintain the tree’s overall health.
While cherry tree sap can occur for these reasons, there are some solutions you can use to help treat your tree. Additionally, cherry sap isn’t maple syrup, so knowing if it’s poisonous or not (to you or your pets) can be good to know. So, let’s explore this more.
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Why Cherry Trees Leak Sap
The scientific term for a tree that oozes sap is gummosis, and it can occur for several reasons. So, what are some reasons why cherry trees might produce sap?
Cherry trees leak sap as a response to damage to the tree. This could be from a cut, borers, or a disease, such as canker. While each condition has different remedies, providing good care for the tree is the best defense against injuries and leaking sap.
When cherry trees produce sap to close a wound, they are more susceptible to other health issues and their leaves can start to yellow and drop.
So, while we know a bit more about gummosis and its causes, let’s take a look at what we can do to fix it.
How to Stop a Cherry Tree From Leaking Sap
If you see that your cherry tree is leaking sap in a single place, it’s most likely from a cut. This can commonly occur from an injury from metal or a sharp object, such as a lawnmower, weed whacker, or even pruning shears.
For these types of injuries, the best thing to do is to let the cherry tree try to heal itself. Luckily, the sap is a defense mechanism to reduce the chance that fungus or other invaders don’t feed off of the tree’s injury.
If you’ve been caring for the tree well, it should have enough strength to heal and eventually stop producing sap.
Limiting Borers and Other Pests
The main difference between a cut and pests, such as borers, is if the cherry tree is leaking sap in multiple locations, especially if they’re 1 foot or less from the ground. If this is the case, inspect the wounds for burrows or sawdust. This can also be found at the base of the tree. If there’s evidence of either, then borers have likely found their way into the tree.
The first step to getting rid of borers is to remove any weeds or vegetation that are close to the cherry tree. This serves as a prime breeding ground for borers. Mulching around the cherry tree is a good solution as it can prevent weeds from growing and help retain water in the soil.
Additionally, you’ll want to prune any affected branches. Generally, borers will be located in the trunk but can make their way to a few branches. Prune these to prevent further spreading.
Other pests can also damage the tree such as gophers, squirrels, and birds. Monitor your tree for signs of them and then you can set up the relevant deterrents.
Healthy cherry trees can defend themselves better against insects and other pests, so it’s important to help maintain their health.
You may be tempted to use sprays or insecticides on your cherry trees, but it can often do more harm than good as it can also kill pollinators and get absorbed into the cherry tree, causing further damage.
In the end, the two best ways to stop and prevent borers are removing their breeding ground and then letting the cherry tree try and heal itself. If all goes well, the borers should die off.
On the other hand, if your cherry tree is leaking sap that’s above a foot off the ground, and there’s no sawdust, then it’s most likely canker disease, especially if it’s sunken in at the site where it’s leaking.
Cankers need to be cleaned and cut off to avoid spreading. Cankers, along with other diseases, can be cleaned with or without the use of sprays. For a more natural solution, try burning the infected bark or applying copper-based solutions (copper is a natural antibacterial and anti-fungal mineral). If you’re going to be pruning any diseased branches, aim to do so in the spring when the tree can heal quicker.
Cankers generally spread through smaller injuries in the spring and summer, so try to minimize damage to the tree to prevent cankers from forming.
Just like when it comes to cuts and pests, properly watering, fertilizing, and protecting the tree against the wind, heat, and cold will help the tree survive and decrease the chance of further wounds or disease. Aim to only water the soil (and not the tree or foliage) as this can help reduce the spread of the fungus, especially into any currently open wounds. Once they have access to water, the cherry tree’s roots will take care of distributing it throughout the rest of the tree.
Is Cherry Tree Sap Poisonous (to Humans and Dogs)?
Cherry tree sap is poisonous, however, some trees are more poisonous than others. Wild and black cherry trees are some of the most poisonous due to their leaves, seeds, and other parts of the tree containing high levels of cyanide, which is lethal for most animals.
While cherry sap isn’t dangerous in small amounts, cherry trees have been known to kill livestock on homesteads. For this reason, it’s would be best to keep dogs away from it as well. Make sure to inspect your pasture for any poisonous plants such as these before allowing your animals to range on them.
If your cherry tree is oozing sap, start by inspecting the sites. If they’re just a single site, it’s likely just a cut and will heal itself. If there are multiple sites, then it could be borers or canker disease. Remove the infected branches and nearby weeds to limit the spread of these two.
Overall, make sure to tend to your cherry trees well by providing deep watering, sufficient nutrients, and protection from the elements. By doing so, your cherry tree will be at optimum health and will be able to handle these threats better, and usually on its own.
If your cherry tree is showing other symptoms, and is not fairing well, make sure to check out my recent post: 3 Quick Steps To Revive a Dying Cherry Tree.