The effect of tree age, daily sap volume and date of sap collection on the content of minerals and heavy metals in silver birch (Betula pendula Roth) tree sap

PLoS One. 2020 Dec 29;15(12):e0244435. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0244435. eCollection 2020.


The aim of this study was to determine the effect of the age of trees, daily sap volume as well as the term of tapping birch sap collected in the forest environment on the content of selected minerals (zinc, copper and manganese) and heavy metals (lead, nickel, chromium and cadmium). The study was performed on material taken from two stands (aged 34 and 84 years) in a moist broadleaved forest habitat with a dominant share of silver birch (Betula pendula Roth). The research results confirmed the presence of both nutritional essential minerals and hazardous heavy metals in the birch sap. At the same time, the content of minerals and heavy metals was found to be very variable and the differences between their concentrations, recorded on the same day of collecting in several trees of the same age group, can be even several dozen times higher. Depending on the examined elements, the factors influencing their content vary. The age of the trees determines only the manganese content; daily sap volume significantly affects the content of manganese and copper, and date of collection differentiates the content of zinc, lead, nickel and cadmium. The results may be interesting in the context of developing procedures for collecting birch sap for the purpose of obtaining raw material with beneficial nutritional values and a high level of health safety. For this reason, our recommendation for guaranteeing the health safety and high nutritional value of birch sap is to combine batches of raw material taken from as many trees as possible, and at the same time to publicize the fact that collecting birch sap from just one single tree may result in a raw material that is both dangerous and has no nutritional benefits.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Betula / physiology*
  • Beverages / analysis
  • Forests
  • Metals, Heavy / analysis*
  • Minerals / analysis*
  • Plant Exudates / chemistry*
  • Poland


  • Metals, Heavy
  • Minerals
  • Plant Exudates

Grant support

The article was financed by the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education within funds of the Institute of Forest Sciences, Warsaw University of Life Sciences (WULS), for scientific research.