Truffle tree guide
Caring for your truffle tree
This Hazel truffle tree will happily grow in its organic pot for the next few weeks, just place it in a sheltered spot outside, even in chilly winter. Please follow the care guide enclosed with your gift. Hazel trees appreciate being drenched with water when the top soil is almost dry. It’s important not to over-water as the roots will suffocate, if constantly wet. Your truffle tree will thrive in a well-drained, alkaline soil, so we have added the perfect balance of pH and nourishment to ensure your tree and its truffle will flourish.
Plant your tree, still in its organic pot so the roots and truffle fungus are not disturbed, in a large (20-30 cm wide) flower pot (one with holes for drainage) or in a sunny spot in the garden. Your Hazel truffle tree can be pruned in autumn and may reach a height of 3-4 metres in 10 years, if allowed to grow naturally.
Truffles are an ectomycorrhizal fungus, which means they have evolved to thrive underground in a mutually beneficial, symbiotic relationship with the roots of particular trees. The tree benefits from the truffle increasing its underground surface area, thus bringing extra nutrients from the soil into the tree. In return the tree supplies the truffle fungus with vital nourishment, including precious sugars which the truffle cannot produce because it does not photosynthesise.
Truffles prefer to grow under a variety of oak and hazel trees. We have chosen the wonderful Hazel tree, not only will it thrive in any garden, it also matures much faster than the Oak and its truffles will ripen in 4+ years, whereas the slower-growing Oak’s truffle will ripen in 8+ years. The Hazel truffle tree will flourish in a moist, alkaline (pH7-8) soil. As the truffle fungus is native to UK, it will happily grow in most British gardens, especially limestone, chalky soils. An annual dose of Lime (Calcium carbonate) can be added to acidic ground, this can be bought from most garden centres or online shops.
Time to forage!
When the spores of the truffle mature, the fungus produces aromatic compounds that mimic our feel-good pheromones and smell delicious. Traditionally, pigs and dogs have been used to hunt for the truffles. An alternative is to look out for ‘les mouches à truffes’ the truffle fly which can be spotted hovering directly over the underground nugget when the truffle is perfectly ripe.
Fortunately, hunting for this gourmet delight is much simpler with an individual truffle tree. Just look out for the ‘brûlés’ around your Hazel tree. This ring of bare ground appears when the truffle is mature, it's caused by the mycelium, an underground network that supports the truffle tree’s growth and monopolises the nutrients and water around the tree. In UK and Ireland the ground is usually moist in autumn and as the truffle ripens it often rises, breaking the surface, ready to be discovered!