t’s that time of year again, when New Hampshire-ites head into the woods to make syrup from the sap of their box elders, Norway maples and black birch trees.
What’s that you say – nobody taps those species?
Why not? They have sweet sap, too – why don’t we celebrate Box Elder Syrup Weekend?
Because … well, to learn why, you’re going to have to read my article. Here’s a teaser to make you click through: “Sugar content of sap is measured in something called Brix, which sounds like a breakfast cereal but is actually the percentage by weight of sucrose in pure water solution.”
missed one of the other important factors about why sugar maple is preferred. it is excellent at compartmentalization, effectively recovering from tap wounds quickly, and minimizing stain, decay, and other internal losses. no other trees in the northeast do this as well as sugar maple. not red maple. not silver maple. not white birch. not northern red oak.
the ability of sugar maple to compartmentalize damage allows one tree to be tapped every year for decades. we’ve got dozens that we’ve tapped for 40 years. red maples generally will not tolerate tapping for so long; the decay and internal damage either kills the tree, or weakens the structure so that the stem breaks during a wind event, or ice loading.