Tree syrup is produced by concentrating the sugars found naturally in sustainably harvested tree sap.
Freezing spring nights and warm spring days in North America play a pivotal role in its maple syrup production, by getting the sap flowing in big, old maple trees, which can then be collected and processed into syrup.
Aotearoa’s mild winters would seem to rule that out, but our climatic conditions are sufficient to enable maple sap flow. However, rather than focusing on old trees, we are examining the potential of young trees, in a closely spaced, horticultural-style row-crop, similar to an orchard or vineyard in approach.
Matching tree species to New Zealand conditions could allow an alternative, higher-value use for marginal land, support regional development, and produce an exportable product. We are building a business case for Tree Syrup Aotearoa.
Research is underway to explore this opportunity, and to de-risk investment into a new-to-New Zealand tree syrup industry.
Our team was recently awarded three years of research funding where we will be focusing on scientific evidence to describe tree-syrup sap exudation mechanisms. The initial focus is maple, but birch syrup has an even higher value, while syrup derived from native trees could enable a protected geographical indication (like scotch to Scotland) and further support a nationwide tree syrup industry.
We are using this website to share our research results, data and information, and to build a community of interested stakeholders for the exchange of ideas and experience.
A selection of the imaging techniques we are using in our research, and some examples of the images produced.
A 2D model shows how heat propagates in a sapling's stem, as measured by external sap flow sensors, after a heat pulse.