Importance of Mycorrhizae in Forestry

dwheeler at dwheeler at
Wed Dec 31 14:11:19 EST 1997

In article <5PsTKAAHKaq0Ewei at>,
  beth <gates at> wrote:
> n.b. Whenever man or woman tries to copy nature they usually leave
> something out.  I had a good laugh watching Dark Star the other day on
> TV.  Fancy forgetting to give the forest light!
> Perfectly viable pre truffle infected oaks are available in France to
> plant your own truffle wood.  Postings regarding all fungi in woods on
> here seem to overlook that the French found out a long time ago it is
> best to infect trees before planting rather than expect the
> haphazardness of natural occurrence to provide a living.  Can you
> truffle nuts not ask the French for more info.?

I'm not sure it makes too much difference at this time. The only patents
have been issued for Tuber melanosporum (French Black truffle)
cultivation. This requires soil pH of 7.5-8.2 for fruiting. At about pH
of 8.0, trees start to die off dramatically. There are _very_ few such
sites naturally occuring (thank goodness!) in US. Areas where it does
occur are mostly desert.

  I am really anxious to
> see the result on here of such enquiries as I have been saying for ages
> about growing trees to crop fungi and herbs as cash crops before the
> (incidental?) maincrop of timber, etc.

I'm glad to hear it. You might try finding a copy of Russell Smith's Tree
Crops. You and I are apparently not the only one's who have been dreaming
about this. Russell evidently thought about it for quite a while. He
suggests planting an acre of chestnuts is more productive than planting
an acre of corn, based solely on the food value derived. He also suggests
the wide-row spacing of trees to allow co-cropping of vegetables, herbs,
and even other tree species. And the book is only 50 years old...

I think growing fungi with trees is a little easier, especially in the
Pacific Northwest. The predominant tree here is Douglas fir, which
associates with at least 3,000 species of mycorrhizal fungi, and several
species of saprophytic fungi of economic importance. I have even grown
shiitake off of both Douglas fir and Western hemlock, another common
forest tree.

It is quite possible the value of small-diameter wood is greater to grow
fungi than a comparable amount of wood as lumber. Plus there are about 10
different species of truffles which can be grown in association with
Douglas fir. Many of them can actually be cultivated on the same trees.

Daniel B. Wheeler

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