Spring is here

So, it appears that spring is here, the swans here at the Wolseley Centre have started to gather material for a nest and the song birds are in full song, re-establishing their territories and breeding rights.

Tapping Birch

A sure sign of spring in the woodlands and wild places of the UK is the rising of tree sap, which slowly travels up from the roots carrying vital nutrients to the young buds and foliage, providing fuel for their emergence and growth. The silver birch tree is one particular tree in which the sap starts to run relatively early in the year. It is also a sap that can be collected for drinking and making into syrup and a variety of other beverages. In many part of Europe, this practice still takes place in the modern age. Birch sap is now commercially available in some health food shops and larger super markets in the UK and is reputed to have health benefits. The time period for the sap rising is only around two weeks and usually occurs in the UK around mid to late February

So, with the landowner’s permission and with tree welfare at the forefront of our mind, we set out to try a few different methods of tapping birch trees to gather some sap.

Branch harvesting

#1: Branch harvesting, this method involves collecting sap from clean cut on medium size healthy branch around head height on the tree. Branches of this size and location on the tree are often trimmed for access reasons. So after tapping the sap, the branch is trimmed back to the trunk to aid in healthy healing for the tree.

Natural tap

#2: Natural tap/funnel, this method involves drilling a small hole in the main trunk of the tree and inserting a natural conduit for the sap to flow down and into a container. We have utilised a small twig of Ash whittled to size and with the centre pith removed. After tapping the sap, the drilled hole will be plugged with a silver birch twig and trimmed off, to allow and encourage the tree to naturally repair.

Fresh birch sap

Overnight we managed to collect around 150 ml of sap from branch harvesting. The sap is very cold and refreshing, with a very slight sweetness and silky texture. Cheers!

Spring Watch!

Continuing with a spring theme, different signs of spring are appearing on a daily basis on our reserves and across Staffordshire. In the past week, I have seen the first primroses in flower!

Primrose

As well as my personal favourite, lesser celandine. This member of the Buttercup family is a traditional woodland species, but it can also be found along hedgerows, on waste ground, riverbanks and gardens.

Lesser Celandine