Acer comes from the Celtic ac, meaning “hard,” in reference to the hardness of the wood
The sugar maple, the hard maple, and the bird’s-eye maple share a common botanical name, Acer saccharum Marsh (saccharum being the Latin word for “sweet”). Their leaves are opposite, simple, and palmately veined, with five main veins. The life cycle of the sugar maple resembles that of most North American deciduous trees.
One characteristic sets the species apart and gives it unique potential: the spring sap run.
Sugar maples reach tappable size at about 40 years of age. A properly tapped tree gives 2 to 5 litres of sap per day and may continue producing for a century. During sugaring season, which lasts approximately 6 weeks, an average size maple will produce 35 to 50 litres of very thin, watery sap, which gives about 1 litre of pure maple syrup.
It should be noted that the sap is very clear, watery like appearance, and naturally contains between 1.5% and 3% sucrose at harvest.
At the end of the evaporation process, it will become pure maple syrup at 66% sucrose concentration, or 66° Brix.
Other types of sugar maple, such as the red maple (Acer rubrum) and the silver maple (Acer saccharinum), are also tapped. Their sap is less sweet, so the resulting maple syrup is darker.