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Uses of tree saps in northern and eastern parts of Europe
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Uppsala Centre for Russian and Eurasian Studies.
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2012 (English)In: Acta Societatis Botanicorum Poloniae, ISSN 0001-6977, Vol. 81, no 4, 343-357 p.Article, review/survey (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this article we review the use of tree saps in northern and eastern Europe. Published accounts by travellers, ethnologists and ethnobotanists were searched for historical and contemporary details. Field observations made by the authors have also been used. The presented data shows that the use of tree sap has occurred in most north and eastern European countries. It can be assumed that tree saps were most used where there were extensive stands of birch or maple trees, as these two genera generally produce the largest amount of sap. The taxa most commonly used have been Betula pendula, B. pubescens, and Acer platanoides, but scattered data on the use of several other taxa are presented. Tree sap was used as a fresh drink, but also as an ingredient in food and beverages. It was also fermented to make light alcoholic products like ale and wine. Other folk uses of tree saps vary from supplementary nutrition in the form of sugar, minerals and vitamins, to cosmetic applications for skin and hair and folk medicinal use. Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are the only countries where the gathering and use of sap (mainly birch sap) has remained an important activity until recently, due to the existence of large birch forests, low population density and the incorporation of sap into the former Soviet economic system. It is evident that gathering sap from birch and other trees was more widespread in earlier times. There are records indicating extensive use of tree saps from Scandinavia, Poland, Slovakia and Romania, but it is primarily of a historical character. The extraction of tree sap in these countries is nowadays viewed as a curiosity carried out only by a few individuals. However, tree saps have been regaining popularity in urban settings through niche trading.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 81, no 4, 343-357 p.
Keyword [en]
sap collection, fermented beverages, non-timber forest products, ethnobotany, forestry, food culture
National Category
Natural Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-193716DOI: 10.5586/asbp.2012.036ISI: 000312895300012OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-193716DiVA: diva2:603523
Available from: 2013-02-06 Created: 2013-02-06 Last updated: 2013-02-06Bibliographically approved

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Svanberg, Ingvar
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Uppsala Centre for Russian and Eurasian Studies
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