New Forest Service policies take a big step backward

Daniel B. Wheeler dwheeler at
Mon Apr 22 11:01:12 EST 2002

Geoff Kegerreis <Geoff at> wrote in message news:<3CC3ED1C.2B8AF64A at>...

> -The sterilization process was extremely complete.  Turns out the way
> to germinate these seeds with any success in the lab is to subject the
> seed capsule to ethanol and then bleach/water solution, and then by removing
> the cotyledon from the seed capsule.  That was the only way I found to
> get them germinated.
When small amounts of soil amendments or substrate amendments are
added, spores may also be introduced. When diatomaceous earth is added
to wood chips or sawdust for cultivating mushrooms, often the d.e.
will have spores within the fossilized diatoms, especially Tricholoma
viride, which is found in most soils world wide.

Tricholoma viride is infamous for infecting mushroom cultures.
> is not the first time you have heard the statement.
> Soil is of course the medium that woody plants occur in
> out in the "field", but sterile medium is fine, and of course hydroponically
> grown platns do not even need a medum after a signifigant root structure and the
> basal vegetation is formed at all!
True. But hydroponic plant growth is a recent innovation. I don't
think I will hold it against Gifford Pinchot for not knowing about the
technique 100 years ago. Rooting plant cuttings in water is common and
has been long quite a while. But I wouldn't want to grow a tree in it.
>  A plant can be held up by the basal leaves
> on a string and you can run a mix of water and nutrients over the roots
> and grow the plant just fine.
Yes, but you have missed the point somewhat. Under specialized growing
conditions, water is always provided to the plant. In nature, there
are no such guarantees. Perhaps the most important function of
mycorrhizal fungi is to provide water to host plants.

For example, shortly after I-205 was constructed here in Oregon, the
state highway department solicited donations of container-grown
Christmas trees to plant on the sides of the new freeway. Over 60,000
trees were donated. Over 98% did not survive, even though the same
species of tree growing within a few yards away grew rapidly. The
reason? Container-grown trees have no mycorrhizal fungi in almost all
cases. The trees were transplanted in April and May, during relatively
warm weather. The trees died from a lack of water that in nursery
conditions were being provided. But that was water which nature did
not provide.

> carbon structure ...Fungi aid signifigantly here.
agreed. CO2 is extracted from air, but H20 is also essential to the
process. Mycorrhizal fungi assist plant survival through water and
nutrient uptake.

> -You are right, there are plenty of them.  They piss us off.
> I would suggest that a forester is one who makes a majority of his/her living
> directly managing forests.  S/He must hold at least a Bachelor's degree in
> forestry from an accredited university.  S/He must base their management
> on relative silviculture, so a high-grading log buyer doesn't fit my qualifications.
> That is pretty much it as far as I am concerned.
> The rest are specifics.
Under your specifications I am not a forester. I do not hold such a
degree. However, I have an intense interest in continuing to exist.
And without plant life such survival is unlikely.

> -No, because there is not one person in the world who can say s/he knows all the
> fungi in the world.  There are obvioulsy fungi which are more important than others
> as far as foresters are concerned, you have touched on a few, but from where most
> of us stand, here are a few more important ones (these are genii/problems I am referring to):
Exactly. And because neither foresters nor lay people are aware these
fungi exist, the ability to grow trees is seriously compromised.
> Nectria and Hypoxylon cankers
Prime examples of saprophytic fungi (wood degraders)
> Cytospora cankers
I am unfamiliar with this fungi, but would presume it was also a
saprophyte. Most cankers are.
> Armillaria root rot (many tree species)
Armillaria (and Armillariella, which is the family many of the
Armillaria have recently been switched into) are interesting in that
they can sometimes be symbiotic fungi. But they can also become
saprophytic fungi, killing their host plants. The reasons for this
change are unclear at this time.
> (those three are ones I see most often in
> the woods, and it's usually too late to do anything about them
> other than removing the trees).  Fungi usually do not do large
> scale damage to trees, but sometimes that happens
Two of the above three probably grow only on dead wood. The other
species may or may not be good for the tree. However, if
Armillaria(iella) is found growing on wood, it is _always_
> Here are a few others...
> Dibotryon causing black knot in Cherry
> (there's another one I see on a daily basis)
> Leptographium black stain root diseases
> Annosus Root rots
I *think* this is a reference to Heterobasidium annosus, aka
Douglas-fir root rot. Dr. James Trappe at Oregon State University has
said that Tuber gibbosum (Oregon White truffle) appears to act as a
fungal prophylactic against H.a. Thus plantations where T.g. is
established may become future old-growth forests.
> Verticillium wilt
> Ceratocystis wilt carried by the beetle to American elms,
> although this one isn't such a problem anymore, because most
> of the elms are gone - although there are some healthy ones
> growing on my land.
> However, the same genus causes Oak wilt, which is becoming
> more and more of a problem locally here.
> Pythium root rot caused by Oomycetes
> Phytophthora killing Frasier fir Christmas trees.  What about
> Port-Orford cedar root rot by this genus as well?
> Antrhacnose problems in Sycamore and Dogwood (especially
> shade grown and more recent problems with the last one).
> (That is the genus Gnomonia)
> Diplodia tip blight problems...
> Sirococcus shoot blights...
> Phomopsis and Kabatina tip blights
> Gyptosporangium spp..
The above list is a rather comprehensive list of saprophytic and
parasitic fungi. There are, of course, hundreds of thousands more.
None of the above do I recognize as mycorrhizal, which are generally
beneficial to plant health and continued growth.
> I can go on and on and on with this list, and still not hit them all.
> The fact is, you or no other experienced mycologist is going to
> know everything, just like I am lacking information on trees,
> but it doesn't mean that we're ignoring things.
> > Not in your lifetime or even mine perhaps. But the evidence is fairly
> > clear and straight-forward.
> -I disagree with that.  Those fungi are found everywhere in one stage
> or another, especially in soils of
> coniferous forests where the are necessary for growth of conifers -
> but not most broadleaves.
Wrong. The Boletaceae family produces Rhizopogon, Boletes, Suillus,
Gastroboletes, and many more families of mushrooms, all of which are
known or highly suspected of being mycorrhizal at this time. Oak,
beech, alder, birch, hawthorne, and most other hardwoods have such
fungi. However, maple is _not_ well known for having much variety of
mycorrhizal fungi. Most associated with maple are of microscopic
nature, similar to those of grasses and mosses, such as Glomus mossae.
> -Why not wind spread?  As we both know, those organisms have several different
> phases they go through.  The spores are found in many places
> where the fruiting bodies are not!  However, spores are so small that they
> could have (and probably do have) many different vectoring agents.
While wind is important for at least some fungi dispersal, it is not a
major dispersal vector for others. Think about it. Why is Cantharellus
cibarius found only in Scandinavia and The Netherlands, according to
Dr. Eric Danell, who is the first person who was able to grow C.
cibarius in the laboratory? Dr. Alexander H. Smith believed that the
common chanterelles of the US West coast was the same fungi. But Dr.
Danell's research with DNA analysis provided it was, in fact, a
separate species. And Dr. Danell has never been able to get C.
formosus spores to germinate. How nature solves that trick is still a

The same is also true of most truffle species at this time. There is
probably some portion in the complex symbiosis betwen tree, plant,
fungi and animals that creates ideal conditions for truffle spore
germination. But it is not currently known.
> -That is completely out of line with reality.  I can show you thousands of
> square miles of trees that are older than 50 years here in this state grown by
> foresters at least supervising the CCC crews.  Mycorrhizae, which causes
> root branching in confiers and greatly helps them grow is present in most
> of our soils throughout the northern 2/3 of the state.  Places where it is not
> present, it is easy to tell by looking at the pine growth.  All it typically takes
> is taking a sqaure foot of soil from a site infected with Mycorrhizae and
> insert it into the lacking soil, and typically, it doesn't take long to get enough
> to grow conifers well.
Bingo. But how do those fungi get spread in nature? Soil transference
is at least one method of mycorfhizal fungi dispersal. A single square
centimeter of soil may contain up to a mile of mycorrhizal fungi, if
it was separated from the soil particles and laid end to end.

In nature, Dr. Trappe, Chris Maser, Michael Amaranthus, and others
have shown that a great many mycorrhizal fungi, especially the
hypogeous species, are dependent upon animal and insect mycophagy for
dispersal. While the fungi spores themselves are not mobile, they're
unique symbiosis with animal and insect life allows them to become
dispersed. Thus the native animal life of a healthy forest is as
important to overall forest health as anything man provides.

Mycorrhizal fungi does not instantly leave an inoculated area. It
takes several months after trees have been harvested for that to
occur. If reforestation takes place quickly, many mycorrhizal fungi
will associated with the new seedling trees. But when reforestation is
delayed for several years, mycorrhizal fungi colonization of new
seedlings is atypical, and the seedlings often die.

Further, there are very specialized eco-niches for mycorrhizal fungi.
Some exist only with large-diameter woody debris, such as Hydnotrya
truffles (Wood truffles in David Aurora's Mushrooms Demystified).
These fungi apparently transport nutrients from rotting logs back to
healthy growing trees nearby. The logs also act as water reservoirs:
the more rotten, the more water available. These becomes extremely
important in times of drought and stress.

> I did not say that.  The soil composition and climate play huge differences.
Agreed. Oregon is considered to have some of the worst soils for
growing trees. Yet is produces some of the largest trees in the world.
Soil apparently is not the issue here. And until very recently, most
people didn't know it had to do with fungi. Dr. Lorelei Norvell has
estimated that the Pacific Northwest may have between 1 and 3 million
fungal species.

An interesting aside (at least for me) is that within the last 20
years, several hundred species of new fungi have been discovered
inside the living needles and leaves of trees. These are called
endophytic fungi. While they kill some leaf/needle cells, they also
produce mycotoxins: kind of a tree's nature defense against many
insect predators. The fungal toxins can adapt much faster than the
insects can, and thus remain important in controlling parasitic insect
> Try 2 cords.
Actually I was referencing only the stem. But you are correct that the
total biomass more closely totals 2 cords.
>  Not 1.  By the way, I doubt you'd get 1000 board feet out of
> a tree that size.  Maybe about 800.  Certainly there are larger trees there.
> The biomass that you refer to has indirect economic value, which is the adding
> of nutrients to the soil, of which the tops have the most nutrient content within
> them.  This is why tops are left scattered or burned under most good practices.
> Also, I have seen 16-foot logs here in the East that have more than 1,000
> board feet in them.  It's not like we don't have trees here, too.  Quite valuable
> ones, too - relative to your conifers out there.
Agreed. And at one time the American chestnut was quite common there.
I have seen photographs of American chestnut stands from Pennsylvania
which were truely awesome: probably rivaling the Redwoods in density
and basal diameter. Then the chestnut blight hit...

BTW, the largest remaining American chestnut area is close by: located
in the Columbia River Gorge near Corbett. Here, the chestnuts grow
rapidly on very steep slopes, and can regenerate wonderfully above
1,000 feet elevation. These were planted by a judge about 1910, and
some of the trees are already in excess of 8 feet basal diameter (but
relatively short compared to other native trees). While they prefer
full sun, they are also surviving under nearly full-canopy conditions
with Douglas-fir and Western hemlock. I have found a rare truffle with
these trees: an underground fungus which has been reported only from
Maine and Europe. How it got here is a mystery still, since it grows
underground and has no method of dispersal other than animals. I
suspect that bird migration may play a significant role in that
particular fungi's dispersal. Raptors especially use that area for
their migrations.

Daniel B. Wheeler

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