Heading into the woods is beneficial to your health at any time of the year, simply finding time to put nature in your lives always has a positive impact on your wellbeing. This can be as easy as heading to your local park or as adventurous as packing some essentials and wild camping on the hills well out of the city.
In early spring there is an added bonus to making this pilgrimage. The Silver Birch (Betula pendula) tree is very common in the UK and can be found very easily due to its white trunk.
Birch sap rises from the root base of the Silver Birch tree (and indeed some other species of tree this time of year too) and travels to the top of the tree to fuel the burst of growth of buds which are the start of the new years leaves. The collection of sap is a traditional past time going back generations with many European countries drinking it over the years to treat a variety of conditions. Preventing baldness to treating kidney stones to washing your hair are all uses of the sap.
Select a good strong tree in healthy condition and insert a knife at an angle facing upwards towards the top. Have a pre carved dripping stick at hand to insert into the slit you made with the knife. I simply use a green Birch twig that I have removed the bark from. Using some paracord strap a bottle to the tree to collect the dripping sap. The dripping stick of course needs to be directed into the bottle.
There are other more efficient methods to collect the sap but this method I find is a great way to get into the groove of collecting. There are even companies that collect it commercially… www.sibberi.com
Once you have collected a litre or two then its important to leave the tree in the closest way you found it. So remove the dripper stick and spend a couple of minutes pressing down on the slit you made with your knife. This helps close the hole and lets the tree repair itself.