Monday, January 3, 2011

Take a Look: Backyard Wonders

I’ve talked about the maple tree outside my office window—in the front yard. But I’ve never blogged about any of the trees in my side yard or backyard. Until now.

During my holiday break, as I was cooking dinner one night, I noticed lumps of white stuff at the base of the pine tree in my backyard.

This was several days before last week's big snowstorm, so I couldn’t figure out what was going on. I turned the soup I was making down to simmer and ran outside with my camera in hand.

Here’s a close-up look at what I saw. The white “lumps” were masses of foam. They looked like soap suds.

Here’s an even closer view.
Where was it coming from? It turns out the same foam was running down the side of the tree. Can you see it?
I’ve never seen anything like this before, but it I guess the tree’s sap must have somehow been reacting with the heavy rains we’d been having all day to form the white sudsy froth. How mysterious!


  1. Hi,

    Just noticed this on our trees. lived in rural Sussex for three decades and never seen this before. It was raining heavily and the water running down the trees was making clumps of foam at the bottom of over half of the trees, regardless of their species. Weird. Looks like cuckoo spit but it's coming from plant itself. Just wondered if you had found out any more about it? Andy, Chelwood Gate, East Sussex

  2. We are experiencing heavy rains today (almost 60 degrees), and have witnessed the same foam on our old maple. It's been a long hard winter here in northern NJ - possibly this is excess sap from the tree? If so, I plan on tapping it for syrup next year. No other maples are showing this foam - and we have lots of maples and oak.

  3. Saponins - the excess rain causes the trees (and other plants) to protect themselves with this anti-fungal foam that runs to its root system to be used again as a protein for the tree to digest. This is a very healthy sign - and should not cause worry.