Trees You Can Tap for Syrup

I’m a New England girl. I live right on the Maine/New Hampshire line, just a hop, skip, and a jump from Vermont, the syrup capital of the world. Tree tapping and syrup making are in my blood. Okay, so I haven’t really done it, other than to supervise when I was little, but it’s something I feel I must be doing. Unfortunately, I only have two maples on my property and neither is a sugar maple. I don’t have the time, patience or space to plant sugar maples. I feel as though I am no fulfilling my destiny as a New England homesteader.

You can tap many types of trees for syrup. The list is quite long and includes all varieties of maples as well as walnuts, birches, sycamores and ironwoods.

Then I had a great conversation with a friend of mine at Homespun Seasonal Living when she mentioned this company, Maple Tapper, to me. She told me you can tap many types of trees for syrup. For real? There is a long list of non-traditional trees, but here’s the short list:

Maples

Well, that’s a given, but did you know you aren’t limited to Sugar Maples? You can also tap Black, Red, Silver, Bigleaf, Canyon, and Rocky Mountain Maples. Sugar maples are most commonly used because of their high sugar content (hence the name), but you’ll just need more sap and a longer boil time from the other varieties to make up for the difference.

Walnuts

White, Black, and English Walnuts are good candidates for tapping. They produce a more earthy flavor than maples and don’t produce quite as much sap, but you can tap them at a younger age than you can a maple.

Birch

Paper, Yellow, Black, Gray, and European White Birches can be tapped for syrup as well. Alaska is known for it’s Paper Birch Syrup. With a sap to syrup ratio of 100:1, it’s more labor intensive to make birch syrup, but the market price for it more than makes up for it.

Sycamore

Sycamores can be found in all the lower 48 states and there’s a good chance you can find one in your neighborhood (if not in your own backyard). Sycamore sap can be combined with any other type of sap if you only have one or two trees. I have heard that Sycamore Syrup tastes like butterscotch.

Ironwood

Ironwood sap runs a bit later in the season, but from what I hear, it’s worth the wait. Much like the other trees, you need more sap to create a syrup, but the flavor is very rich.

You can tap many types of trees for syrup. The list is quite long and includes all varieties of maples as well as walnuts, birches, sycamores and ironwoods.

Well, yay! I have two Red Maples and a Paper Birch. I am good to go!

How to Tap for Syrup

Now that we know what to tap, here are some answers to common syrup tapping questions.

How many taps do I need?

The average tap produces 1/3 gallon of syrup. Of course, that number will fluctuate based on the weather and the type of tree.

How many taps can I put in each tree?

A tree of 10-17″ in diameter can fit one tap. A tree of 18-24″ in diameter can fit 2 taps. A tree of 25″ or more in diameter can fit three taps.

Where can I get more information about making syrup?

Your local Cooperative Extension is a great place to get information that is specific to where you live. If this isn’t a resource you’ve been using in your homesteading journey, now is the time to start. Maple Tapper also provides a great list of resources that will walk you through the process. 

You can tap many types of trees for syrup. The list is quite long and includes all varieties of maples as well as walnuts, birches, sycamores and ironwoods.

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29 Comments

  1. Stelbert Russell says:

    Can you tap cottonwood tree for syrup?

  2. I’ve had great luck using Norway maples on my two acre lot.

  3. As I understand it, boxelder can be tapped for syrup, too. It’s in the maple family.

  4. TrollForge says:

    Vermont is far from “the syrup capital of the world” Quebec produces 72% of the worlds Maple Syrup, Vermont, 6%.
    What tree are you referring to as “Ironwood” I know of at least 3 trees in eastern North America that have that name, it is colloquial, not a proper name.

    1. I was just going to say.. sorry not the syrup capital of the world… not even close… Quebec Canada holds that title and has for a long time and it won`t be handing it over to vermont anytime soon. Quebec averages 7,989,000 gallons of syrup a year… Vermont only produces 890,000 so it`s not even a close race.

      1. But what their saying our north eastern states are our syrup cap. Of the USA. Maybe not the world but mighty fine syrup for all of us. So let’s not fuss over whose syrup is the best. Ty. ?

    2. Naturegeek says:

      I was just scrolling down here to ask the same thing, too many trees called ironwood for that to be useful. Also, the couple tree I know of being called ironwood I don’t think really ever get big enough to tap.

  5. Twelve Stones Farm says:

    More amazing yummy stuff from your trees is the sugar water. It is one of our favorite things to set taps and then when the buckets are full (there are times when it is hard to keep up with the flow) we just bring the bucket inside and ladle that amazing sweet water into a glass and drink. It is chilled and slightly sweet and SO GOOD. Like tree juice…only not nearly as sweet as real fruit juice. This is also high end goods, as in VT they bottle this yummy stuff and call it VT sweet water, and it isn’t cheap for a lovely small glass bottle of it. So empty your buckets right into your glasses, as a wonderful treat. Then of course boil the rest.

  6. It takes approx 43 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. (40-50 depending on sugar content of sap) just thought I’d pass that along for those interested πŸ™‚

  7. refreshing blog entry. Would love to learn and have the perfect maine yard.

  8. Kelly at Little Fall Creek says:

    I am so excited to do this! We have maples and sycamore all over the place!

    1. Carolyn Beigh says:

      Do you know if mulberry trees are good for tapping to make syrup?

  9. Sarah Woltjer says:

    My family started tapping black walnuts on our property last year. We had a lot of fun, with some great tasting results. We are looking forward to trying our hand at tapping our maples this year. Thanks for the great giveaway!!!

  10. Rebecca | LettersFromSunnybrook.com says:

    I was at the Pennsylvania Farm Show this past week and saw stuff about tapping other trees there, too. I didn’t know about this before. Of course, I couldn’t leave without taking home maple candies — yumm!

    1. Well of course, you’ve got to have your maple candies πŸ™‚

  11. Holly Wolfe says:

    My family has tapped silver maples on our property for 2 years in West Virginia. We need more taps! Thank you!

  12. I am fascinated with the idea of making my own maple syrup. When we buy property later this year, maple trees are a priority!

  13. Would love to start making my own Maple syrup. We have over 100 acres of Maples, all kinds, and Birch, all kinds. Let the syrup begin.

  14. Once Upon a Time in a Bed of Wildflowers says:

    This is awesome! My brother makes maple syrup… but maybe he shouldn’t have *all* the fun! πŸ™‚
    ~ Christine

    1. It’s messy, but oh so fun!

  15. We have 11 Sugar Maples tagged, can’t wait to tap!

  16. Cheryl Roy says:

    Thank you for such a fantastic giveaway.

  17. Jeannette Olton says:

    What a wonderful giveaway! Thank you.

  18. Janet Garman says:

    awesome! Our family was just talking about this. Most thought you had to have sugar maples but I was thinking there were other trees that would work. Can’t wait to show them this post.

    1. Tammy Morris says:

      We are starting this also. My question is..should we mix sap from different trees and does this do any harm to the trees? Thank you πŸ™‚

      1. I was wondering that myself, and honestly I don’t know. I would check out your Cooperative Extension office for a reliable answer. I plan to contact mine.