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Edible Mycorrhizas  RSS feed

 
Neil Layton
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Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
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This question seems to have been raised before, by someone planning inoculation of trees by edible mycorrhizal fungi, but the original poster's name has been greyed out, and I assume s/he is no longer a member.

Okay, as every forest gardener knows, forest soils are dominated by fungi.

Now, you will find four broad (non-taxonomic) groups of these in your forest:
* Primary decomposers (such as wine cap (Stropharia rugosoannulata), shiitake (Lentinula edodes), oyster (Pleurotus ostreatus))
* Secondary decomposers
* Mycorrhizas
* Parasites, which attack living wood.

When growing mushrooms as foods we tend to concentrate on the first group, mostly grown on mulches, but I think we're missing out here.

As far as I've been able to piece together, the presence of beneficial fungi may prevent colonisation by parasites, but I'd be interested to hear from someone who knows more about this.

Some mycorrhizas are edible. Obviously, good function stacking would involve both setting up these mutualistic relationships while obtaining a yield.

So, what edible mycorrhizas will associate with trees in a forest garden, and how do I go about inoculation? Has anyone had any success with this? I know procedures vary, as do success rates. I've been reading up on this, and as far as I can see the gourmet mycorrhizas are tricky to work with in terms of inoculation, so there may be aspects of the life cycles of these things we don't properly understand. I'm not necessarily interested in the gourmet ones – just ones I can eat (but gourmet would be nice, because I like good food).

I'm especially interested in edible mycorrhizas that will enter into symbiosis with the following taxa:
* Bambusoideae (bamboos)
* Castanea (chestnuts)
* Citrus (oranges and allies)
* Juglandaceae (hickories, walnuts and pecans)
* Malus (apples)
* Morus (mulberries)
* Olea europaea (olives)
* Pinus (pines, especially Scots pine (P. sylvestris))
* Prunus (plums and other stone fruit)
* Pyrus (pears)
* Ribes (currants)
* Rubus (blackberries, raspberries etc)
* Sambucus (especially nigra (common elder))
* Vitis vinifera (grapes)

Also some of the common hedging plants, such as Crateagus monogyna (hawthorn) and blackthorn (which would presumably associate with the same fungi that associate with other Prunus species).

Am I also correct in thinking that there is a degree of mutualism between different species of mycorrhizas? Can this be factored into forest garden design, by planting trees that require compatible mycorrhizas close to each other?

I'm in Scotland, but may be (hopefully!) moving to the Mediterranean, or possibly south-west Ireland (less likely and less happy about this).

On the other hand, the above is hardly an exhaustive list, and what might not be useful to me might be useful to someone else.
 
John Saltveit
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People cultivate more saprophytics, but search for more mycorrhizals. Mycorrhizal fungi are hard to cultivate. I have successfully cultivated Birch boletes on , you guessed it, birch. Not much is done in this area.
John S
PDX OR
 
Peter McCoy
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Hi Neil,
A few thoughts..
There is extensive research on the benefits of inoculating plant roots zones with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi as well as with soil molds in the genus Trichoderma. These fungi certainly provide lots of protection against soil pathogens by defending the plants and increases it internal defenses.

For mushoom-forming mycorrhizal fungi, I would look to Laccaria species. They are edible and medicinal woodland mushrooms, but are not considered gourmet. However, they are easily to cultivate and readily assocaite with many woodland trees. As such, their application is common in silviculture practices (along with puffballs and other non edible mushroom forming mycorrhizal fungi).

If you wanted to experiment with gourmets, be sure to co-inoculate with compost tea made with soil from areas known to naturally host the desired mushroom. This will add the other microbes that are needed for the mushroom to grow and fruit.

There are some advanced techniques, but you can simple harvest the spores of these mushrooms, dilute them in water or clay powder, and apply them to root zones. Do not apply as a drench as the spores may not reach the roots, where they need to be.

I cover mycorrhizal fungi (their ecology, cultivation, etc) extensively in my book.

Cheers
Peter
 
Timothy Markus
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Location: Ontario, Canada
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Peter McCoy wrote:Hi Neil,
For mushoom-forming mycorrhizal fungi, I would look to Laccaria species. They are edible and medicinal woodland mushrooms, but are not considered gourmet. However, they are easily to cultivate and readily assocaite with many woodland trees. As such, their application is common in silviculture practices (along with puffballs and other non edible mushroom forming mycorrhizal fungi).

Cheers
Peter


Peter, would Laccaria be edible for pigs? Also, do you consider puffballs as non edible?

Thanks
 
Peter McCoy
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No sure about pigs.

Some puffballs are edible, others are toxic. Depends on the species.
 
Andrew Wallace
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Location: Southwest lower Michigan
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I'd love to know what you find out, so, please keep us posted!

I remember reading in Mycelium Running an account of a chestnut farmer in Canada who made a poultice of fresh birch polypore and applied it to an area of blight on one of his chestnut trees, which stopped the blight and presumably kept the tree healthy.
 
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