Mycorrhizae, the Fantastic Fungus!
Written by: Alec Schuppel, ISA Certified Arborist WI-1281A
When we imagine how tree roots operate through the various soil structures in our environment, we don’t consider enough how the soil and roots connect and interact with each other. Mycorrhizae, in many ways, act as an old school phone operator between the different organisms, helping bridge the gap between lines of communication. In natural environment settings, mycorrhizal networks can expand and link the root systems of many different plant species together and help them communicate stress signals and exchange nutrients to one another. Thus, they tend to behave more as an entire community of plant life looking out for one another.
The various relationships between Mycorrhizae and a tree’s roots are referred to as “symbiotic” since they both benefit by promoting each other. The mycorrhizae heavily rely on the carbon, carbohydrates, and other essential nutrients provided by the tree’s root system. In turn, the mycorrhizae help improve the nutrient and water uptake for the tree while relaying stress signals from other root systems nearby. An early warning system, if you will, so the tree can better prepare itself from upcoming danger.
What’s important to note here is that a tree’s response time, between internal and environmental stress, to the external symptoms that we end up seeing is quite slow- up to several years in some instances. When we encourage the development of mycorrhizal networks within our soils, we encourage our tree’s ability to sustain, cope, and prepare for the environment it resides in. Trees cannot move out of harm’s way; it can only cope with issues by outgrowing them.
So how can we promote a mycorrhizal network in our soils to benefit our tree’s overall health? Contact your Certified Arborist at Wachtel Tree Science to discuss the various options available to meet your tree’s individual needs. We range from offering services aimed at improving the soil of your tree’s root zone using aerating techniques and introducing organic matter, to offering one of our many specified soil injection amendments, including a mycorrhizae soil injection. Often this one mycorrhizae soil treatment lasts for several years after only one treatment.