Maple syrup comes from the sap (called xylum sap) of red, sugar, or black maple trees, often in the Canadian province of Quebec and the states of New York and Vermont. Maple trees store starch in their trunks and roots over the winter. The maple trees turn the starch into sugar which rises up through the sap when the temperatures become warmer in the spring. People harvest the maple syrup by boring holes into the trunks so they can remove and collect the sap. The sap is then heated so its water evaporates, leaving only the syrup behind to be eaten.

Maple syrup has been harvested for hundreds of years. Early explorers were taught how to harvest syrup from Native Americans who lived in Vermont and New York. Maple syrup is an important part of Vermont culture. The 2001 Vermont state quarter shows a scene of people harvesting syrup from a grove of maple trees.