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How to Tap Poplar Trees

By Meg Butler ; Updated September 21, 2017

There are many varieties of poplar ranging from cottonwoods to aspens. They can be found growing nearly everywhere in the United States. If you've ever parked your car beneath one of these stately trees, you know they produce copious amounts of sap. The best time to tap a poplar tree to harvest this sap is in early spring when production is at its peak. Beginning in early spring, collect sap each afternoon. Production should continue for three to four weeks.

Drill the tap hole. The hole should be roughly 3 feet off the ground and positioned on the sunniest side of the tree. Position the bit where you would like to drill the hole and apply a bit of pressure to keep it in place. Then turn the handle of the brace and drill a hole that slants upward slightly. The hole should be 1.5 to 2 inches deep.

Remove the brace. Then push the bit in and out of the hole a few times to remove wood from the hole.

Insert the spile into the hole with the lip on the bottom.

Use a hammer to gently tap the spile so that it sits securely in the hole.

Collect the sap. Cover the mouth of a 5-gallon bucket with thin wire mesh to keep out bugs and debris. Then place the bucket at the base of the tree to collect the sap. Empty it periodically.


Things You Will Need

  • Metal tree spile
  • Brace with a 3/8" bit
  • Hammer
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Wire mesh

About the Author


Based in Houston, Texas, Meg Butler is a professional farmer, house flipper and landscaper. When not busy learning about homes and appliances she's sharing that knowledge. Butler began blogging, editing and writing in 2000. Her work has appered in the "Houston Press" and several other publications. She has an A.A. in journalism and a B.A. in history from New York University.