Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Box Elder, Acer negundo

The mention of Box Elder tree instanly brings to mind "no, no," the Box Elder bug. Box Elder is the most widely distributed of all the North American maples, It grows coast to coast and from Canada to Guatemala. This tree grows in almost every county in Utah. It is a fast growing shade tree that will grow in soils where other maples may not grow. The Box Elder bug lives off the seeds of the female tree. But Cutting down every Box Elder tree in your neighborhood or town would not eliminate the Box Elder bug. The bugs can fly a couple of miles from their food source. Also they can live on other maple trees and ash trees. Source

If any of you are interested in making maple syrup, The Box Elder tree is a good source for sap. Tapping a maple tree is rather easy. You will need some barbed couplers, plastic tubing the same size as the couplers, a drill and bit to make the hole, and a container to catch the sap. Find a tree that has a minimum diameter of 18 inches. The larger the tree the more sap that you will get. I used a gallon jug to collect the sap. It always ran over when I got back the next day. I would recommend a five gallon container. Have the tubing ready by inserting the coupler into the tubing. The sap may start flowing just as soon as you drill the hole. Drill the hole high enough to leave room below for the container. The hole should go about an inch beyond the cambium layer. The coupler should fit tight in the bark so the sap will not leak out. Caution: If the coupler goes beyond the cambium layer into the wood, the sap will not go through the coupler. Insert one end of the coupler and tubing into the hole. Of course the other end goes into the container. Several trees can be tapped at the same time and collection tubes can be hooked together.

You do this when the the day are warm and the nights are cold. This happens in February and March. It takes about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. A gallon of sap will make about one half cup of syrup.

Boiling sap in the house makes sticky walls. boiling outside over a wood fire is the traditional way. It is probably cheaper to buy the syrup, but it tastes good and is fun for the whole family.

No comments: