The right stuff
Almost all maple syrup and maple sugar comes from the sugar maple tree. Its sap has more than twice as much sugar as any other kind of maple.
Some other types of trees have sugary sap too. For example, people sometimes tap birch trees and make beer out of the sap. But no tree has sap as sweet as the sugar maple.
Lucky for us
The sugar maple grows naturally only in the northeastern United States and eastern Canada. When planted anywhere else, it almost never flowers. The maple tree is so important to Canada that its leaf is the symbol of that country.
Because sugar maples live for a long time, they can produce a lot of sap during their lives. Some maple trees have been tapped for 100 years and are still producing sap.
Around March, when the snow starts melting, tree roots warm up. This signals the trees that it is time to start growing leaves. Trees need to move the food stored in their roots up to the leaf buds so leaves can grow. This food is the sugary sap.
During the day, sap rises, and buds open up. At night, when it turns cold again, the sap doesn’t run.
Sap flows for about six weeks. However, there might be only five or six times during those weeks when the sap is actually dripping from the holes made in the tree. These times are called sap runs. A sap run might last a few hours or a few days.