This winter, enjoy a New England “sugar bush” experience right in your own Missouri backyard or woodlot. Missouri, too, has sugar maple trees (Acer saccharum), which many Northeasterners use for making delicious maple syrup and sugar.

You can tap almost any deciduous (broad leaves, not pine needles) tree in the late winter to collect sap for making syrup and sugar. However, sugar maple tree sap has the highest sugar content, around three percent. While this seems low, most other trees have only one percent or even less. Forty gallons of sugar maple sap will produce one gallon of syrup. Compare that to walnut trees, which take eighty gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup!

Sugar maple trees typically grow in forested uplands, but you can also find them in lowlands next to creeks or even in your own backyard. You can identify sugar maple trees by their opposite branching and bark that peels away vertically, exposing a tan or pink color underneath.

A free maple sugaring workshop will be offered by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23, at the Burr Oak Woods Nature Center in Blue Springs.

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