Does Nature Know Best?

dwheeler at dwheeler at
Wed Jan 14 20:22:29 EST 1998

In article <34BBDB5C.432A at>,
  dstaples at wrote:
> dwheeler at wrote:

> > We have yet to establish that trees are a crop. No one has cultivated an
> > old- growth tree and lived to tell about it.
> "We" being fungii promoters?

Actually, that includes anyone in the world. Fungi are in general more
difficult to cultivate than nearly any other organism. Unless you try
growing them in your refrigerator. ;)

  Most every one in forestry, land
> ownership, etc, view timber as a crop.

And I do not propose it stop. See my posting under Toward Mycostry.

  And it depends on old growth
> definitions.  I have 80 year old trees that are old growth in the south,
> and you need to remember that what effects, or happens, in your woods
> differs in my woods.

I recognize that, Don. That's why I try to learn about trees and fungi
from other areas. But it is quite possible we have more in common than

> >
> >  what
> > > would you do, hoe between the rows on a yearly basis?
> >
> > Actually, yes. This is generally how truffles are collected. The act of
> > truffling appears to act as an aeration for soils, much like plowing does
> > in fields. Aeration is beneficial to many soil-building organisms, and
> > does not + appear+ to damage truffle mycelium. However, other mycorrhizae
> > such as Tricholoma magnivelare (matsutake) detest soil disturbance.
> >
> >   Yellowstone was a
> > > product of beleaving Smokey the Bear, under pressure from citizens to
> > > not "show all that burnt ground".
> >
> > An interesting quote. Citation?
> Citation? Quote?  My comment, citizens want pristine wilderness, hence
> no burning allowed, fuel built up, and a catestrophic fire ensued.  Read
> and study, get you head out of your humus.

But that's where most of the interactions with plants and trees happen.

> >
> >   I grow lots of things in my woods
> > > that I don't identify, insects, fungus, lizards, reptiles, small mammals
> > > (although I do better with the higher evolved animals and plants)and an
> > > occaisional suprise plant, long endangered,but hey, my woods got 'em.
> > > Quite frankly, mycorrhizal fungi don't interest me, they are there, they
> > > do their job, I couldn't get rid of them if I tried, that happens in
> > > the sub-tropics.
> >
> > Actually, it's easy to get rid of mycorrhizal fungi. Clearcut, and don't
> > replant trees for a year. Another method is to fertilize with more than
> > 80 lbs. of urea per acre. Eliminate the tree's need for mycorrhizal
> > fungi, and their quickly disappear. Unless the feeding regimen is
> > maintained, the trees usually follow the fungi. :(
> HUH?

Yeah. Same comment I made until I saw it. In Southern Oregon a clearcut
surrounded by old-growth Noble fir was, as the Forest Service
euphamistically calls it, "harvested". A problem with funding resulting
in no reforestation of the site until after Congress approved funds,
something that took 3 years.

The site was then replanted to Noble fir. Over 90% of the seedling trees
died in the first year. They had the same access to air, water, soil and
light that the older trees surrounding them had. Yet they died. What was
the difference?

The mycorrhizal fungi needed to keep these trees alive at 3,000 feet had
already died. And without them, the seedling trees grown in nurseries at
1,000 feet were unable to withstand the stresses at 3,000 feet.

This replanting was done not once, not twice, not thrice, but 5 different
times. Finally someone went over to the older trees, took a shovel of
dirt, and dumped it in the hole before planting the trees (one laborious
way of fungal inoculation). While many of the seedlings still died, the
survival rate jumped to over 50% survival.

> >
> >   You like them, be my guest, identify away, enjoy, grow
> > > 'em, hell, take 'em out to lunch,  we foresters have a few bigger plants
> > > to worry about.
> > >
> >
> > We have yet to establish that there is a crop. Mostly what I see
> > foresters/ loggers doing locally is equivalent to strip-mining the soil.
> > I'm glad that so many diverse life forms survive near you. But I question
> > whether you are growing them. Perhaps they are growing in spite of your
> > management.
> Incredible statement. Yet to establish that there is a crop. Strip mine
> the soil.  I grow the life forms by methods of management, that includes
> all types, not just selected fungii.  We have been cropping the timber
> for decades, you must remember that this news group reaches consiterably
> further than your back yard.  Perhaps the mushrooms are growing in spite
> of your writtings.

That's certainly possible. But my success ratio is 100% for Tuber
gibbosum and Rhizopogons. The ratio for Leucangium carthusiana is only
50% to date (1 out of 2), I _think_ because I didn't have enough
information on the specific soil type needed to fruit Leucangium.

I don't suggest that trees cannot be a crop, Don. But I do suggest that
in many cases, the value of the mycorrhizal fungi are worth more than the

Case in point: a 40-60 year old Douglas fir reached 24" dbh, 120' high,
and 6" diameter at 100 feet, and produces about 1,000 bf of lumber. At
this time, the tree finally becomes worth a few hundred dollars.

But for 30-50 of the years that tree is growing to 120' high, it is also
inoculated with Tuber gibbosum and T. giganteum, producing .5 lb. of each
fungus per year. Thus the tree produces each year $30-$100 of mushroom
while growing to maturity.

At cutting, the tree may be worth $800 (at today's prices). While
reaching that size, the tree would have produced $900-5000 worth of
mushrooms. Which is greater?

Daniel B. Wheeler

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