[Agroforestry] Re: A suggested use for poplar (perhaps Lombardy)

Nick Maclaren nmm1 at cus.cam.ac.uk
Mon Sep 26 03:08:17 EST 2005

In article <1127711716.859867.260200 at g43g2000cwa.googlegroups.com>,
 <dwheeler at ipns.com> wrote:
>Small (4-10" diameter) hardwoods, especially those which grow rapidly,
>are nearly perfect for growing mushrooms on. I don't know that shiitake
>receives much publicity in the UK, but it is popular in France, where
>it is known as "champignon parfume".

Yes.  There is definitely a market in the UK, though not a huge one.
And for other ones that grow on dead wood, such as the oyster fungus.

>I do not know specifically that Lombardy poplar would be a good choice
>to grow mushrooms on: it would have to be confirmed.

I believe that it is fairly good, but not all that much better (if
at all) than other, fairly fast-growing, coppicable trees like oak,
ash, holly and hazel.  The advantage of those is that they all make
good timber, excellent firewood and grow rapidly on damp loams (i.e.
good poplar conditions).

In definitely WET conditions, it makes sense to increase the wetness
and grow reeds - the sell for a high price, as there is a national
shortage of them.

>However, I have seen good production of shiitake (Lentinula edodes) on
>a hybrid cottonwood (Black cottonwood x Eastern cottonwood), which
>grows up to 12 feet a year from a bare 18-inch end scion of a living
>tree. The bias-cut end is simply shoved in the ground, and in many
>soils here in Oregon, the tree is on its way, especially in low-land
>areas near rivers, bogs, lakes, etc.

Which, as it seems you know, is a close relation of the poplars.
Nothing grows 12' a year here, as we don't get enough warmth and
insolation, though the first year shoots from coppicing or pollarding
can often be 6-9'.

>What do I consider good shiitake production? For every cord of 24-inch
>long straight, mostly limb-free sections, I would anticipate at least
>$8,000 US in mushrooms at $4/lb. Compare that to whatever firewood is
>going for in your area.

No comparison.  Especially as poplar makes such awful firewood.
I have heard that it can be used to make mediocre charcoal, but the
trees I mentioned make better charcoal.

>For more on the subject, I'd suggest reading Stamets' "Growing Gourmet
>and Medicinal Mushrooms", which should include about 8 other possible
>mushroom species for cultivating on the same tree specie(s).

I don't know the book, but could probably name half a dozen, though
not all of them have a market in the UK.

Nick Maclaren.

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