For the past few years I've seen these blue bags attached to Missoula trees just as we are coming into spring, but what are they exactly?

The answer might be obvious to some, but if you were like me, you thought only places like Vermont and Canada had Maple trees. As it turns out, there are many different species and Missoula has a ton of them right in city limits including Norway Maple and Honeylocust.

Yes indeed. Those weird blue bags are used to gather sap. The act of tapping a tree for Maple syrup involves you drilling or "tapping" a hole into a tree and then collecting the sap in a barrel or bag and then boiling it down for syrup.

Now, you might be asking "well isn't this illegal"? Well, according to city officials, it is, and you could face a $500 fine. In a recent interview with Kpax News Marie Boggess, a Missoula Urban Forestry Program Specialist states:

We've actually never issued a violation for tree tapping. We've only ever issued warnings - Mary Boggess

These Missoula Maples aren't meant to be tapped for syrup. Tapping the tree creates a "wound" and these species of Maples don't have a deep root system many are very old and tapping them makes them weak and vulnerable.

While it might seem tempting to jump on the Maple tapping fad in Missoula, I have to wonder, is it even worth it? The amount I've seen gathered so far in the 20-25 bags around my neighborhood wouldn't fill half a jar. Plus there is the labor of boiling it down, filtering, etc. I mean maybe just go to the store and buy a bottle instead? Just my two cents.

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