Toward Mycostry

BOBNDWOODS bobndwoods at
Mon Jan 12 19:50:13 EST 1998

In article <884550821.1702821893 at>, dwheeler at writes:

>The following article is copyrighted by Daniel B. Wheeler, and appeared in
>Mushroom the Journal, Spring 1994.

>Toward Mycostry, by Dan Wheeler

>Mycostry blends forestry with mycology. Why is a new term needed?  Chris Maser
>noted in The Redefined Forest that "forestry" as currently defined too often
ignores >or excludes fungi. "Forestry" is timber, timber, timber. Today's
foresters know >almost nothing about fungi.	  Why are fungi important?
According to the book The >Primary Source, fungi make up 52 to 55 percent of
forest biomass. These fungi
>live in soil, on wood and dead leaves, on damaged or stressed trees, and even
in >the leaves of healthy trees. Dr James Trappe of Oregon State University
notes that >95 percent of all plant life is symbiotic with mycorrhizal fungi. 
These facts define >today's forestry as bad science and bad business. In
supporting fiber production,
>"forestry" ignores over half the forest biomass. "Forestry" stresses
short-term profit >over long-term productivity. Literally, "forestry" doesn't
see the forest for the trees.


Dan, your knowledge of fungi is impressive and your enthusiasm for them is
admirable.  Every maligned life form should have such a courageous champion. 
Maybe someone will take up for the foresters.  Till then, I would like to make
just a few observations on your comments about forestry.

Forestry is not "timber, timber, timber" as you say.  But, timber is the
economic commodity that drives the forest industry.  Yes, fungi are a major
componant of the overall biomass (I can go along with your figures.  I don't
have any better ones off the top of my head).  But can you make a decent
two-by-four out of mushrooms?  Foresters are generally cognizant of the
importance of mycorrhizae to trees.  Most foresters are aware, if not well
informed (admittedly I am not), of the commercial value of fungi to those
landowners wanting to undertake the labor intensive effort to cultivate or
harvest them.  If you are suggesting that mushrooms should take the economic
place of trees as a forest commodity, I just don't see those kinds of market
forces at work here.  Forestry is more about maintaining long term productivity
in the face of market demands for a resource depleting commodity.  I would say
that you can't see forestry for the mushrooms.

>A century ago Gifford Pinchot announced four requirements to grow tres: air,
water, >soil and light. Pinchot discovered these requirements during greenhouse
>experiments.  Mycorrhizal fungi are seldom found in greenhouses.

Gifford Pinchot's comments a hundred years ago are not the sum of all forestry
knowledge.  However, mycorrhizae are generally addressed by forestry as a soil
componant.  In a way, Pinchot was on the mark.  Mycorrhizae are not "required"
to grow trees in the strictest sense.

If you want to grow truffles, more power to ya.  But, unless they can really
take the place of trees in terms of forestry productivity, maybe you do need a
field for mycostry.  Maybe you need an "alt.mycostry" as well.

Bob Miller
Alabama Registered Forester

~~~> The forest may be quiet, but that doesn't mean all the snakes have left.

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