Montana city reminds people not to tap city-owned maple trees for syrup

FILE: Maple
Photo by Thiébaud Faix on Unsplash
FILE: Maple trees

MISSOULA, Mont.– Tapping a maple tree in one Montana city could get you into a lot of trouble.

The City of Missoula Urban Forestry Division sent out a public service announcement reminding everyone that tapping city-owned trees is not only illegal but can also be harmful.  City leaders said tapping an already stressed tree on the street depletes its natural energy reserves and creates entry points for disease and decay.

“As many people look toward local and sustainable food practices, it may be tempting to try tapping the maples that line city streets,” says Urban Forestry Specialist Marie Anderson. “But tapping a street tree will drain the stored energy the tree has been saving to leaf out in the spring. Urban trees face a harsh growing environment including drought conditions, compacted soil, limited soil volume, and porous soils—so it’s critical we don’t exert additional stresses on them.”

The Missoula Urban Forestry Division said even though tree tapping can be done safely, it can still create a place on the tree that won’t heal. Plus, the equipment that’s used to pull sap from the tree’s vascular system can also create a pathway for infections.

If you’re from Missoula or just visiting and want to tap a tree for syrup, ask before you start. The city said lots of its trees look like they might be on private property. You can contact the Urban Forestry Division at or 552-6253 if you have questions.

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