Maples are one of our most familiar and beloved trees. They are found across the northern hemisphere, with native species occurring in Europe, North America, Northern Africa and Asia.
Here in Maine, maples are well known for their large, toothed leaves which turn brilliant red, orange or yellow in autumn. Come spring, as cool nights transform into warm days, sap runs from the roots to the branches in great quantities. Sap is collected in buckets that hang from spigots tapped into the bark of the trees. The sap is watery with a slight hint of sweet. When the sap is boiled, it causes the water to evaporate leaving behind the sugars in a concentrated solution. The concentrate becomes maple syrup, which is popular as a topping, or as an addition to marinades or sauces.
Members of the maple family are also well known for their dense, strong wood. Sugar maple is a popular choice for crafting furniture. Wood from sugar maples is known for its strength and attractive grain patterns such as "birds-eye" and "tiger" patterning