Mycorrhizal Mushroom Trees
For enquiries about mushroom trees please contact Dr. Ian Hall via his website at www.trufflesandmushrooms.co.nz
Saffron Milk Cap (Lactarius deliciosus)
In collaboration with Truffles and Mushrooms (Consulting) Ltd, and Dr Ian Hall, we are excited to make available to the New Zealand public, trees mycorrhized (successfully inoculated) with the culture of the famed Saffron Milk Cap mushroom (latin name Lactarius deliciosus).
ABOUT MYCORRHIZAL FUNGI
While many mushrooms are 'saprophytic', meaning that they live on dead and decaying organic material, some species of mushroom are 'mycorrhizal', meaning that they live in association with a living host tree. Mycorrhizal mushrooms depend on the host tree to provide the right nutrients and other growing conditions for their survival. Therefore, the only way to cultivate mycorrhizal fungi, is to grow the tree, which has been inoculated with the fungus. Some well known examples of mycorrhizal fungi include truffles, porcini, and the famed 'Saffron Milk Cap' mushroom.
Dr Ian Hall, of Truffles and Mushrooms (Consulting) Ltd has spent much of his career working with mycorrhizal fungi, and developing new methods for inoculating trees with these valuable crops. We have partnered with this project, to bring you the opportunity to grow Saffron Milk Cap inoculated trees on your own property, anywhere in New Zealand.
ABOUT SAFFRON MILK CAPS
The saffron milk cap is loved by chefs for the colour it brings to a meal, its firm texture, and fruity, faintly peppery flavour that has helped make it the number one mushroom in Spain and a favourite in continental Europe since Roman times. They are utilised in a wide range of dishes, limited only by the imagination of the chef.
The saffron milk cap gets its common name from the bright orange milk that bleeds from the mushrooms when they are cut or damaged. This, the concentric rings of carrot-coloured blotches on the surface of the cap and stalk and its tendency to turn green with age or after rough handling, makes this mushroom easily recognisable.
The saffron milk cap grows on the roots of pines where it forms beneficial mycorrhizas. These are orange or orange-brown and are easily seen in the litter layer and soil under infected trees with the aid of a hand lens. Known hosts include Pinus radiata (radiata pine), Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine) and Pinus pinea (Pine nut).
This mushroom is native to continental Europe, from Spain to Russia. It made its way to other places such as Chile and Australia, most likely on the roots of imported trees. Since then it has been brought to New Zealand as well, as an exciting new forestry crop for land holders to grow. The first experimental crops of Saffron Milk Cap inoculated trees were planted in New Zealand in the year 2000. Since then, successful harvests have been had from trial plantations running the length of the country.
ABOUT THE TREES
We have got two species of Saffron Milk Cap mycorrhized trees available this season. They are Radiata Pine (Pinus radiata) and Pine Nut (Pinus Pinea). Both species of trees can produce sizeable crops of mushrooms upon reaching maturity, although Pinus pinea is slower growing and takes longer to start cropping. Although Pinus pinea trees provide opportunity of an additional crop - pine nuts.
A suitable location needs to be found for your trees. These trees grow to a large size, so this needs to be taken into account. They can live (and produce mushrooms) for many decades. Soil type, and soil moisture, also need to be taken into consideration.
A soil type that is suitable for growth of Pinus species is obviously a prerequisite. In addition to this, to support healthy mushroom growth, other soil factors can come into play. Most critically, a soil of a lower pH, and low in phosphorous is preferable. If you are planning to plant numerous trees as an investment, we are able to arrange for a comprehensive soil test, analysed by Dr Ian Hall, which will give a clear indication of the suitability of the location. If the soil is not naturally moist, especially in the late summer and autumn, access to some form of irrigation is also useful to boost cropping of mushrooms.
The trees should be planted in the spring. August to September are the ideal months in New Zealand. Saffron milk caps grow best when the trees are slightly more spaced out (or free standing) compared to a traditional forestry block. Dappled sunlight, and some grass growth around the base of the tree, are perfectly acceptable for mushroom growth. As such, a spacing of about five meters between trees is advised.
The young trees require some protection for at least the first year of growth, until they begin to become established. As such, the use of a tree protector is necessary. You can make your own (from pegs and wind break fabric), source some yourself, or otherwise you can order some from us along with your trees. Irrigation during dry spells while the tree becomes established is also very beneficial.
Care and Maintenance
With proper care, trees can begin producing crops of mushrooms in as little as a year or two. Initial crops will be small, and will increase over the years as the tree itself grows and matures. Under good conditions, a single tree can produce in excess of 3kg of saffron milk caps per year.
The care of the trees does not have to be overly complicated or time consuming. The three main factors are:
Irrigation In many cases, trees will perform well under natural levels of rainfall. However, if water is accessible, having the ability to irrigate trees in drier climates or during spells of dry weather, is advantageous to the cropping capacity of the tree. Depending on the scale and location of the plantings, this could be done either by manual watering with a hose, or, ideally, piped irrigation with a dripper or two near the base of each tree, that can be switched on as needed.
Pruning Normal pruning practice for pinus species should be used, to maintain the health of the tree. This mainly involves simply pruning off old, dead lower branches as required.
Mowing If the trees have not formed a closed canopy, and there is grass present around the trees, mowing the grass just prior to the mushroom fruiting season (March to June) can be helpful. It will allow the mushrooms to grow unimpeded by crowding grass, increase air flow, and make the mushrooms easier to find when they do pop up.
NATIVE TREE 'ONE FOR ONE' PROGRAMME
As part of our commitment to fostering a healthy environment in New Zealand, MycoLogic will be planting one native tree for every mycorrhized Pinus species tree that we sell.
ORDERING and ENQUIRIES
**NOTE: We are not currently producing these trees for 2023 or 2024**
To enquire and buy trees please contact Dr Ian Hall www.trufflesandmushrooms.co.nz