Birch Tapping Across The Universe
Birch Tapping is the process of collecting the rising sap from a Birch tree (Betula). It can be collected just before the buds break usually over a two week period in mid March. The process will be explained here and is similar to the process used to tap Maple trees for Maple Syrup production.
The act of harvesting sap from these deciduous trees has been carried out for millenia and the product has been attributed with many health giving properties in a wide range of cultures from Russia to the United States. Birch Sap has been used to treat gout, lung disease, kidney stones, jaundice, scurvy and cholera to name but a few.
As a child, Silver Birch is usually the first tree that one will learn to identify. In a Winter woodland scene, it will punctuate the complex but sparse scene with its striking pillars of white. The woodland to the passing visitor can be a blanket of calm, a complex tangle of trees and branches. The Silver Birch will often stitch the scene together providing punctuation amongst the mossy trunks.
To collect the sap, you will first need to identify whether the sap has started to rise. One way of doing this is to observe the tree. Have the buds started to swell? If a small incision with a knife is made in the surface of the tree does liquid start to flow? With experience, you will know the right time to do it. Most books state that the sap will flow throughout March but it will depend on location and the vagaries of that year's weather.
Once you have decided that the time is right you will need the following equipment
- 10mm drill
- A short run of plastic tubing (also 10mm)
- A vessel to collect the sap ( I used a demijohn)
- A sponge (to help seal around the top of the vessel while you are waiting)
I decided to accept defeat and I plan to try again in a week or so.