How do you make the oak and fungus healthy?
1. Don't use mycorrhizal inoculum. The
fungal spores are already in the soil. (They are very hard to destroy).
Just do things to encourage their growth.
2. Absolutely no grass or weeds! They will replace the
litter layer (fungi absorbs nutrients from this mulch layer, and it is
a nutrient sink for the oaks via the fungi)
3. No water in the dry season under the drip line of
the oak- the fungi will disconnect
4. No tilling or disturbance of the soil- this
encourages weeds, encourages bacterial growth, breaks fungal
connections, destroys the body of the fungi
5. Don't remove leaves under the drip line of the oak
tree. Again, this is the nutrient sink for the fungi. It also helps
discourage weeds, retains moisture, and keeps the soil healthy (not
6. No fertilizer! The mycorrhiza will disconnect. It
encourages the invasion of competitive, non-mutualistic alien species.
The oak will also be more susceptible to diseases.
7. Try to plant associated plants. For example Coffeeberry,
a community of plants together, they can better resist the invasion of
competitive, non-mutualistic alien species.
8. No insecticides or fungicides- very detrimental to
9. Certain herbicides have worked O.K. for us to
inhibit grass and weeds. These are non-invasive methods that do not
disturb the native ecosystem. Roundup has worked for us, it is neutral
to the fungi directly and as little effect mature (non growing) natives
because their defense is the fungi, not the formation of lignin, so
actually aids the oak in getting rid of the grass and weeds.
Also, we utilize the preemergent herbicides Treflan and
Surflan. Why? They have proven to be most effective, while not harming
the native plants or the mycorrhiza. They exterminate about 90% of the
weed seeds, they affect only the top Â½ inch of soil, and
they do not disturb the essential litter layer or the soil. In a
habitat with annuals as dominants they would be detrimental for obvious
10. Tale of the tree surrounded by the planter two feet
high- yes it is alive after twenty years, yes it was adversely
affected. You couldn't call it a tree, more of a stump with branches
sticking out. Its next door neighbor is 60 feet high with a four foot
diameter trunk and the affected tree has a trunk as big and it is 15
feet tall and the form is that of a pollarded tree, vestigial and
disfigured. Why did it decline? The tree roots and their associated
fungi need air to breath. When several feet of soil are piled on top of
the roots, the air supply to the roots is effectively blocked. The
ectomycorrhiza that was at the surface with the leaf litter is now
buried to deep to do its job.
There are other fungal friends associated with the oaks, some
live in the leaves, some in stems, some in the trunk, like mycorrhiza
(mycorrhizae)they share resources to protect the tree and themselves.
For more about mycorrhiza and roots see
mycorrhizal California native plants.
roots and California Native Plants, native landscaping
California native plants, mycorrhiza and the native ...
mycorrhiza and your plant community.