Does Nature Know Best?

Ron Wenrich woodtick at
Fri Jan 16 06:06:38 EST 1998

ForestFair wrote:

> Daniel B. Wheeler's <dwheeler at> testimonials for mycorrhizal fungi
> have been as prolific as the fungi seem to be -- perhaps  they are mushrooming
> so rapidly that it's hard to digest them all.
> >I regret to burst the bubble, but I am unconvinced that foresters know
> >how to grow trees.
> I don't know a thing about mycorrhizal fungi.  I'm don't know if my trees do.
> either.  What I do know is that as a landowner, I don't hire a forester to grow
> my trees.  Time and Mother Nature do it quite well.  Whether with or without
> mycorrhizal fungi, I do not know.

I see where Dan is coming from, but his aspect is more on truffle cultivation.  For
us in the East, I don't think it is viable as a commercial crop.  Other types of
fungii offer economic returns in addition to timber revenues, but I doubt if many
landowners will take advantage of the income potential.

I had a go 'round with another amateur mycologist in a local NG.  Unlike Dan, he
did not favor cutting any timber.  His point was that trees need mycorhizzal fungi
in order to grow and thrive.  It's a point well taken.  Successful development of
mycorrhizal fungi is important in the uptake of nutrients to the tree, a possible
improvement to water absorption, and protection of root tips to pathogens.  The
problems I find is what are the known effects of certain forest activities on the
symbiotic relationship?  What effect does soil compaction have on the remaining
trees, for example?  What effect does whole-tree chipping have on fungii?

I'd like to point out that forestry has only been in practice for less than 100
yrs.  In the Northeast, that means about 1 rotation.  I'm not sure 1 crop gives us
a lot of knowledge of long-term associations.  Plantation forestry is not practiced
very much up here.  A lot of plantations fail.  This is due to trying to convert
stands over to pine, fields to hardwoods, or the use of imported species.  This
failure may be due to the lack of understanding between the relationships of
mycorrhizal fungi and tree growth.


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