Toward Mycostry

dwheeler at dwheeler at
Tue Jan 13 15:22:12 EST 1998

In article <19980113005001.TAA22198 at>,
  bobndwoods at (BOBNDWOODS) wrote:
> 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.
> <snip>
> 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?

In general, you can't have mushrooms without forests. And vice-versa. This
defines the term symbiosis.

  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.

Sigh. <heavy, with feeling> Is it possible you can't see the mushrooms
for the forest?

> >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.

Absolutely true. This is the essense of the term obligate mycorrhizae.
However, growing trees in soil generally requires mycorrhizal fungi for
long time frames: like the life of the tree.

> 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.

Nice quote. I certainly hope the snakes still have a place, along with
frogs, salamanders, voles, owls, squirrels, chipmunks, deer, elk, bear,
and other forest denizens.

Daniel B. Wheeler

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