New Brunswick

Maple trees provide more than just syrup

Maple trees are known for their sap that makes the sweet syrup people put on their pancakes and waffles. But there are several ways to enjoy the tree that aren't quite as sticky.

The syrup may be the sweetest part of the maple, but there's plenty more to the trees

Greg Osowski from the Atlantic Wildlife Institute said there are many edible parts of maple trees.

Maple trees are known for their sap that makes the sweet syrup people put on their pancakes and waffles. But there are several ways to enjoy the tree that aren't quite as sticky. 

"We can start with the most obvious, the leaf. The young leaves are edible," said Greg Osowski from the Atlantic Wildlife Institute.

"They have a slight maple flavour to them, they can have a nice sweet flavour to them also."

Osowski says once the leaves mature, they lose their flavour and become harder to digest.

"I eat them raw or you can cook them up or nibble on the tree as you're walking past them. Usually that's what I do."

Our wild edibles guy Greg Osowski says maple trees offer more than sweet syrup -- the seeds and bark are pretty tasty too! 7:34


The seeds of the maple are called samaras or "helicopters," are also edible.

"You peel the outer layer of the helicopter and inside is the little tiny seed that looks like a little tiny pea," said Osowski.

"You eat them raw, roast them in your oven on a pan … they taste a little bit like a maple they've got a slight maple-y flavour to them."

He said the seeds can vary in bitterness depending on the tree, but he usually eats them right off the branch.

"I use them as trailside nibbles. Just eat them raw," he said.

People interested in trying this can also soak the seeds in water to remove some of the bitterness before eating.  

Osowski says that the inner bark of the maple or the cambium layer is also edible.

"It's the layer that transports the sap up and down the tree in the spring. You can dry that, chew on it as it is or roast it … you can pound it down in a food processor and make some flour out of that also," he said.

"There's lots the maple can offer other than just the sap."

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