11 Excellent Trees To Tap For Syrup For Living Off-Grid

Plant tapping is a long-standing custom among indigenous cultures in North America, who taught the first colonists how to tap maple trees.

Birch sap has a long and illustrious history in Europe, Russia, China, and Japan. These customs have endured for a reason: tree sap is liquid gold because of the benefits it provides.

Many tree species have sap ready to be tapped for syrup production. Probably a lot more than you think. You could even have one in your own backyard.

Due to its wide variety of uses 11 trees are discussed in detail to tap for syrup while living off the grid in this article.

11 Trees To Tap For Syrup

11 Trees To Tap For Syrup

On a frigid winter morning, maple syrup-covered hotcakes are hard to top. 

Your hotcakes will taste even better if you make your own maple syrup, plus you’ll save hundreds of dollars a month. 

You don’t create maple syrup; instead, you gather it from maple trees. After it’s been collected, it’s processed to eliminate contaminants and excess water.

11 trees are listed below with details.

IXTH GATE Tree Tapping Taps

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Maple Trees For Syrup

The maple trees have been the clear front runner on our list because maple syrup is a delightful staple in most pantries. 

You can produce your own natural sweetener, which is a terrific alternative to other less-healthy options.

The optimal time to tap a maple tree is determined by your location. Tap trees with a diameter of 12 inches or more. 

A prevalent misconception is that just a few types of maple may be used to make maple syrup. In fact, Any of the Acer species (100+ varieties) of maple tree may be properly tapped. 

There are seven popular maple tree kinds in North America, each with its own set of climatic requirements.

Sugar Maples

Sugar Maples

The high proportion of sugar in the sap makes them perfect for creating maple syrup, which is why they are the commercial choice. 

One gallon of pure maple syrup is made from 40 gallons of sap from a sugar maple tree.

Maple trees may reach heights of 110 feet. Because of its large, rounded form, this tree requires room and will provide shade.

The sugar maple requires acidic to slightly alkaline soil and does not grow well in rainy or dry conditions.

Native Americans used the sugar maple on a regular basis in the past, which was noticed by early European immigrants. 

Maple syrup was a popular early sweetener, and the inner bark was utilized to prepare a tea that was used to treat coughs and stomach ailments.

Black Maples

Such trees are frequently thought to be a sugar maple subspecies. 

They seem similar, but the leaves of the black maple tree have three lobes, whereas the leaves of the sugar maple tree have five.

These trees are frequently tapped for maple syrup production due to their comparable sugar content. The Great Lakes states are where they thrive.

Red Maple

Red Maple

Because of its capacity to thrive in a variety of conditions, from swamps to dry land, this tree is one of the most prevalent deciduous trees in the eastern and central United States.

However the harvest time for sap is limited, rendering it a less popular alternative for tapping in commercial production. 

Red maple syrup is equally as sweet as the other types.

In comparison to the 2-2.5 percent sugar concentration found in black and sugar maples, the sugar level of sugar maples is roughly 1.5-2 percent. 

The buds of the trees develop early in the spring, and the sap turns bitter after sprouting.

Silver Maple

In the United States, this is one of the most prevalent trees. A mature tree will reach 80 feet in height, it will be a little lower in stature. 

Because this is a fast-growing tree, it has weaker bark, readily dropped limbs, and root concerns at the surface. 

Although silver maple trees may be tapped for syrup, their flow is thinner and contains less sugar than other maple trees.

The tapping season is also shorter, with early buds developing in the spring, altering the sap’s flavor from sweet to bitter.

Norway Maple

Norway Maple

Norway maple sap isn’t as delicious as sugar maple sap, yet the tree is widespread in some locations. 

Some people consider it invasive since it can withstand situations where conventional maples can’t. The flavor is comparable to that of sugar maple syrup.

Boxelder

If you know what to look for, identifying a boxelder tree is straightforward.

These trees have ash-colored compound leaves, roundish buds, and strong twigs that transition from powder blue to purplish-green over the seasons, which is rare for the maple genus.

It has the greatest sugar content of all the maples, with a concentration of 2%.

Although its sap is “particularly wonderful, tasting like a somewhat sweet spring water,” according to Frankhauser, box elder has half as much sugar.

This maple tree may be used to make maple syrup. To create one gallon of maple syrup, it would require 60 gallons of boxelder sap with a slightly lower sugar concentration.

Bigleaf Maple

Bigleaf Maple

This species is found mostly along the Pacific coast of western North America. 

This maple is notable for its enormous leaves, which may reach 6-12 inches in diameter. Autumn brings out the lovely gold and yellow foliage.

This tree may be tapped for maple syrup as well, however, it is less typically employed due to the warmer climate in which it grows. 

It has a lesser sugar content than the sugar-maple, but it may yield sap that is suitable for maple syrup under the correct conditions.

Bigtooth Maple

Bigtooth-maple is a kind of sugar maple that is native to the interior of the United States, primarily in the west. 

Yields are smaller, and keep in mind that this tree will only produce if nightly temps are below freezing and daily highs are in the 40s.

Rocky Mountain Maple

Another maple species endemic to Western-North-America is the Rocky Mountain Maple. 

Despite the fact that spring temps are theoretically tappable, they are not always conducive to a sap run.

Gorosoe

Gorosoe is a tapped maple species in Korea. For generations, this tree has been harvested for its sap, though it is rarely boiled down into syrup. 

The sap is consumed by the inhabitants of South Korea for its health advantages.

The New York Times reports that Koreans engage in sap drinking binges, swallowing liters of sap in a single day in a heated chamber. 

The idea is to sweat away the bad stuff and replace it with maple sap, which is good for you.

Birch Trees for Syrup

Birch Trees for Syrup

Indigenous inhabitants from what is now Sweden and Norway have been using birch syrup since long before the advent of the new world. 

It’s just recently begun to be commercially manufactured throughout the world, with numerous US companies selling it at exorbitant costs.

Birch Tree Tap

Birch trees are a little later to bear fruit than maple trees. 

They prefer temps in the 40s and 50s throughout the day, and they usually bloom around April, just when maple trees are concluding their sap cycle.

Birch trees only yield syrup for about two weeks, so it’s a simple method to make a final bit of syrup before putting away your tapping equipment for the season. 

In 2018, maple trees on our property started producing in late February, but birch trees didn’t begin producing until late April.

Birch syrup was formerly used as a sweetener, vinegar, and fermented liquors, wines, and ales, as well as in traditional medicine. 

It’s been used for anything from rashes to scurvy, according to reports.

Paper Birch

Paper birch has the greatest sugar concentration of any birch, making it ideal for industrial tapping. 

Even still, the sugar concentration is less than 1% on average, and a gallon of paper birch syrup requires nearly three times as much sap as maple syrup.

Yellow Birch

According to studies, yellow birch has the greatest antioxidant content, making it ideal for syrup manufacturing. 

For this reason, several Canadian producers are offering specifically prepared yellow birch syrup.

It has lower sugar content than paper birch and blooms earlier, resulting in a short growing season (less than two weeks). 

Yellow birch syrup is difficult to come by because of this, but the end product has a strong caramel flavor.

Black Birch

Birch trees, like maple trees, may be tapped for a regular supply of tasty and edible liquid sap, often known as birch water. 

Although the birch tree tapping season does not begin until mid-to-late April, or just before the trees begin to produce buds, it is always a good time to learn how to do it.

River Birch

This birch variety is prevalent in the Southeastern and has been introduced as an ornamental plant in other areas. 

River birch will produce syrup, even if it is in little quantities.

Gray Birch

Gray birch may also be used to create a syrup, but only in a pinch. It’s more of a shrub than a tree, and it only grows large enough to be worth the work after it’s established.

European White Birch

European white birch, a relative of the American White Birch, may be used to make birch syrup.

During the evaporation process, the sugar (fructose) in this birch sap caramelizes quickly. 

The greatest tasting birch syrup is made from sap that has been slowly evaporated rather than boiling hard, as is the case with maple sap. 

Over the course of 14 to 30 days, tapping eight to ten birch trees will provide roughly eight to ten gallons of sap each morning.

Both fresh and organically fermented birch sap can be ingested. It’s a clear, colorless liquid that’s frequently somewhat sweet and has a smooth feel when it’s fresh. 

The sap begins to ferment after two to three days, and the flavor gets more acidic.

Alder Trees For Syrup

Alder trees may be harvested for sap as well. Alder trees, which are technically members of the birch family, produce sap that is comparable to that of birches. 

They’re mostly found in the Pacific Northwest, so they’re a suitable substitute for sugar maples if you don’t have any nearby.

Nut Trees For Syrup

Walnut trees generate a high-sugar sap that may be cooked to make excellent syrup. 

The sugar concentration and maturation time are similar to maples. 

Because nut trees are among the last to blossom in the spring, they will continue to produce usable sap long after maple trees have done.

Despite the fact that the season is longer, they generate significantly less sap than maple trees, around 1/3 as much per tree. 

This implies that in order to acquire the same amount of finished syrup, you’ll need to tap more trees.

Walnut trees may be found growing wild in many regions of the country, particularly in locations where maple trees are scarce. This makes them very useful for tapping.

Black Walnut

The flavor of black walnut syrup is distinct, delicate, and pleasant, unlike the tannin-filled nuts that they produce in the fall. 

Every year, a friend of mine taps black walnut trees in Missouri.

Seasons change greatly with the weather, just like they do with maple trees. They’ve been tapping since January and as long as March.

Butternut

Butternuts are reported to yield a light, silky syrup. We may never know in these regions. 

Butternut canker has decimated the native butternuts in recent decades, and we’ve witnessed tree after tree fall victim.

The canker weakens the timber, ultimately killing the entire tree. 

Only one butternut tree remains on our property, with a sad ten or so leaves. This plant isn’t going to last much longer.

If you come across real butternut, do yourself a favor and save it. I’m sure the syrup is great, but please don’t harm that lovely tree.

Heartnut

Heartnuts are indeed the Japanese equivalent of English walnuts that have been naturalized in the United States. 

They can be tapped for syrup, much like the rest of the Juglans family.

Buartnut

Buartnuts are a hybrid between butternuts and heartnuts that appear to be immune to the butternut canker! 

From hardy trees that can be cultivated as far north as zone 4, they produce a delightful buttery nut.

English Walnut

Although English walnuts may be harvested for syrup, they are often grown in warm climates with poor spring weather. 

There are a few hardy kinds being bred for the northeast, so hopefully, a booming English walnut and walnut syrup business for us in Vermont will emerge soon.

Sycamore Trees For Syrup

Because sycamore sap has less sugar than maple sap, it will need a lot more sap to generate a fair amount of syrup. 

They’re a common landscaping tree, so chances are you’ve seen one or two in your area.

Even if there are only a few, the sap can be combined with sap from other tappable trees. 

Sycamore syrup has a characteristic butterscotch flavor, and it may be used to make a unique finished syrup when mixed with other sap in modest amounts.

Outdoor Life describes how to make sycamore syrup, but claims that the output is comparable to maple syrup. 

Because the report is lacking in details, I’m left to question if they were successful in the end.

Linden Trees For Syrup

The sap from linden trees (basswood) is thought to contain very little sugar. Because the trees like to grow in areas with plenty of water, their sap is quite watery.

I’m going to find out this spring. Most websites that discuss tapping basswood trees claim that there isn’t enough sugar in the sap to warrant boiling, but most also disregard birch syrup.

Ironwood Trees For Syrup

Foresters consider ironwood trees to be weed trees since they thrive in the understory and may outpace more commercial species in low light. 

They’re abundant in our forests, and while I don’t consider them weeds, they are plentiful.

They generate sap considerably later than maple trees, around a week after birch trees, and it begins to flow about a week later. 

We discovered that boiling two gallons of sap generated roughly four ounces of syrup, which isn’t as nice as maple syrup but far superior to birch syrup.

The syrup was harsh and slightly tannin-tasting. If you’re interested, I wrote about our experience tapping ironwood trees.

Hickory Trees For Syrup

Hickory trees may be tapped for syrup, although “hickory syrup” is no longer prepared that way. 

Hickory syrup is commercially sold by Wildwoods Syrup, which makes more than 30,000 bottles each year.

Although their product is labeled as “wild foraged,” it is created by extracting the taste of hickory bark by boiling it and then adding cane sugar. 

It’s not made from tapped hickories, but it does have a unique smoky and woodsy flavor.

Elm Trees For Syrup (Ulmus Genus)

Elms, although being reportedly tappable and even recognized as a syrup tree by county extension workers, have their own set of issues. 

Thousands of elm trees are being killed by Dutch Elm Disease, and adding to the anguish by puncturing the bark and perhaps infecting healthy trees is simply irresponsible.

These are similar to butternuts in my opinion. They’re reputed to create a fantastic syrup, but they should stick to safer options.

Palm Syrup (Coconut Palm and Other Palm Species)

To have access to tappable trees, you don’t have to reside in a northern, temperate environment. 

The sap of the Asian Sugar Palm, for example, contains up to five times as much sugar as that of a common maple tree (sucrose).

Some Asian Palms may produce 20 liters or more of their super-sweet sap in a single day. 

When compared to even the most productive maple tree, which can only produce eight leaves, this is a huge difference.

Poplar Trees For Sap

Although one reference discusses tapping poplar trees, the piece has a lot of factual inaccuracies that make me doubtful. They don’t appear to have attempted it.

The balm of Gilead is made from poplar trees, which leads me to suppose their sap is sticky and resinous. Please share your experience in the comments section below.

Wild Burlington, a Vermont-based outdoor education organization, recommends tapping the following trees in one of their sessions as an experiment. 

They followed up to say they weren’t particularly successful, but that they think it was because they tapped too late in the season.

Trees Should Not Be Tapped For Syrup

The sap of black-locust, smoke-tree, staghorn-sumac, and buckthorn is poisonous and must not be harvested for syrup, 

According to the authors. Scientists tapped them to test how much sap would flow, as part of an experiment.

Tips To Tree Tapping For Syrup

Tips To Tree Tapping For Syrup
  • When is the best time to tap, so learn the best time first and then tap. The tree wrap should be applied in the autumn when the tree begins to go dormant (typically around November) and removed in the early spring when the temperatures begin to climb again (usually around April). Wrapping your tree on Thanksgiving and removing it on Easter is an easy way to remember this.
  • To tap technically means tap it in an advanced manner to get good results. As a guideline, use the width of the plant tape. Tree tape is a water-repellent paper that has been treated with tar or another water-repellent material. The tape comes in rolls with a width of two to three inches and a length of up to 50 feet. The tape will help insulate and reflect sunlight from the tree’s trunk.

Maple Syrup Tree Tapping Kit

Maple Syrup Tree Tapping Kit – (10) Taps + (10) 3-Foot Drop Line Tubes + (2) 1- Quart Maple Sap Filter – Dark Blue Premium Food Grade Tubing - Instructions, Recipe Cards
  • MADE IN NORTH AMERICA. Kit includes (10) 3-foot premium dark blue drop lines; (10) 5/16” maple tree tapping spiles; (2) One-quart maple syrup filter; Instruction sheet; Recipe cards
  • DARK BLUE TAPPING TUBES blocks the sun’s rays and protects the sap from sunlight entering the drop lines. BPA FREE.
  • LIFETIME GUARANTEE ON TAPS AND TUBING. Heavy duty food grade maple sugaring tubes and taps. Reusable taps & tubes. Flexible tubes are highly visible in the woods and show the flow of maple sap

FAQs

Is it harmful to a tree to tap it for syrup?

Tapping a tree leaves a wound, but it is one that the tree can easily repair and one that does not harm the tree’s life.

Do maple trees have feelings?

These don’t have nerve networks, yet they can still sense what’s happening and have pain-like sensations. When a tree is chopped down, it emits electrical signals similar to that of injured human tissue.

Last Sentences

While many other plants can be used to make syrup, the ones listed below provide the best advantages and outcomes. 

Deciduous plants generate sap somewhere in the spring season, so you can always look up the trees in your yard to see what fruits you might be able to harvest.