Mycorrhizae Make Miracle Roots

By: Jeffrey P. Hagfors, Certified Arborist WI-0181A

Winter 2007 Newsletter in Adobe PDF format Colonizing mycorrhizal fungi have a unique symbiotic relationship with the roots of trees and shrubs. They give the tree water and nutrients in exchange for sugars. This relationship benefits both the tree and the mycorrhizae.

The urban forest is nothing like the natural forest setting. Soil compaction, reduced amounts of topsoil, high and low soil temperature extremes, turf grass competition, limited root space, inconsistent soil moisture and depleted amounts of mycorrhizal fungi make the urban forest a hostile environment. Yet, we continue to try and grow forest plants under these conditions. It’s a miracle that trees and shrubs can even exist there.

The key to maintaining healthy, vigorous trees and shrubs in the urban forest is nurturing and keeping their roots healthy and active.

One major strategy to keeping roots healthy is to increase the amount and availability of mycorrhizal fungi on and around them. These colonizing mycorrhizal fungi have a unique symbiotic relationship with the roots of trees and shrubs. Mycorrhizae enable tree roots to be more efficient in performing their task of water and nutrient absorption and transfer. In return, the tree (host plant) provides the sugars the mycorrhizae need to continue their survival.

This is an evolved relationship that benefits both the tree and the mycorrhizae. Over 99% of trees and shrubs have this relationship with mycorrhizal fungi.

Trees with active mycorrhizal root systems have many advantages:

  • increased ability to tolerate compacted soils
  • enhanced tolerance to drought
  • improved ability to withstand a broader range of soil pH
  • increased tolerance to soil temperature extremes
  • enhanced ability to combat root rot fungi and other pathogens
  • enhanced ability to compete with turf grasses for available nutrients and water
  • increased ability to absorb and transfer water and nutrients.

Plain and simple, trees and shrubs with active mycorrhizal root systems have greater ability to survive and thrive in the urban forest.

Not all mycorrhizal blends are equal. We use only the highest quality blends that provide the greatest amount and balance of the spore inoculums required for healthy root systems. This is to ensure that the product is fresh and properly proportioned to maximize the benefit to our clients’ trees and shrubs. Mycorrhizae must be properly selected, stored, mixed and administered, and their application requires attention to detail.

Mycorrhizae applications are just one of the many tools we have available to combat a variety of plant health concerns including:

  • damage from construction-related activities
  • mature and over-mature trees with declining vigor
  • large specimens with limited root space
  • new plantings
  • drought-related stresses
  • root rots
  • chlorosis

At Wachtel Tree Science & Service, we have used mycorrhizal inoculations since their inception in the tree care industry, a period of over ten years. As the industry leader, we work hard to remain on the cutting edge, utilizing new materials and technology that live up to their reported potential. Call your Wachtel Certified Arborist today to learn more about how mycorrhizae, the “miracle roots” can help your trees and shrubs.

© Copyright 2007 – Wachtel Tree Science & Service, Inc.

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