The sap serves as a nutrient transport system inside the tree; a tree would die if sap didn’t circulate inside it. Sap is also a nutritious food eaten by many forest creatures such as squirrels. Cherry trees grow in many parts of the United States. Historians believe that Native Americans taught early settlers of the United States to use the residue of cherry tree sap as chewing gum. Because the sap is clear and tasteless and dries to a chewy consistency, it makes an easy, plentiful and sugar-free chewing gum. Another thing the Native Americans used the sap of the cherry tree for was a form of glue. The sap, when heated and blended with ash from animal fat, produced a very strong, water-soluble glue. It was useful for attaching arrowheads to shafts and blades to knife handles; however, it usually had to be covered with pine resin to waterproof the glue and prevent the loss of blades and arrowheads due to blood. Similarly, cherry sap mixed with cereal crops to make a thick paste could be spread on tree branches to capture small birds. On occasions Native Americans would carve perfectly rounded bulges in the trees so that when the sap bled out it would form a special bowl that could be harvested and given to spiritual leaders or shamans. In today’s uses, the tree sap is extracted and used to make maple syrup, latex, resins, hair removal and other products. Tree sap is sometimes added to natural soaps and bath care products due to its nutrient contents like antioxidants, sugars, minerals, and hormones. When fossilized, resin from tree sap becomes amber. Scientists have also found mosquitoes and other small insects inside fossilized tree sap.
Finding these “unexpected glowing natural abstractions” (Professor Sandra Reed), I really found myself pouring over the fact that nature creates art in a way that is useful to all who discover it. Sujay Shah, senior painting student from Nairobi, Kenya, said, “The (hardened) sap looks like an Indian dessert.” I simply cherish these discoveries and like a gift the sap will be kept with memory for future explorations and or creative innovations.
Aaron Edwards B.F.A. Painting
Photo Credits: Aaron Edwards