Is it legal to tap trees on public land in the UK? I'm thinking of tapping sycamore trees in a local wood on an overnight trip in the spring.

Also, am I correct in the assumption that the last week of March would be a good time for the trip?

  • What do you mean by "public land"? Almost all land in the UK is owned by someone.
    – user2766
    Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 12:00
  • 1
    @Liam the wood is owned by the Woodland Trust but is open to the public
    – Chris J
    Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 12:03
  • @Liam and now I know foraging is allowed on their woods! woodlandtrust.org.uk/visiting-woods/things-to-do/foraging/… thanks for the question, now to see if it someone knows when I should be looking
    – Chris J
    Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 12:05
  • I was going to write an answer, but then it occurred to me, I don't know what's involved in this??
    – user2766
    Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 12:15
  • 1
    @Liam I've tried contacting them before and haven't had a response :(
    – Chris J
    Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 12:39

1 Answer 1


Reading online, I have found that there is no hard and set rule for knowing when to tap, but in the second half of March you should check trees on a regular basis (every day or so) by doing the following.

Simply take a sharp point (I used the tip of the drill) and at about a meter from the ground drive it in past the bark layer, typically 6mm is fine. Give it a little wiggle up & down to loosen the fibres. Now the moment of truth, if the sap is running it will form a droplet within 30 seconds or so. If this doesn’t happen simply revisit the tree every few days at this time of year.

Source: Sycamore tapping

  • Very cold nights and rather warm days are best for tapping the sap from trees. Once the tree starts to bud the sap will change taste.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 14:56

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