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The powerful partnership between trees and mycorrhizal fungi



Leaves turning golden hues and the frosts beginning are reminders that autumn is a season of change. While we remember fall for it’s stunning colors, an incredible process is taking place below the surface: the fascinating symbiotic relationship between trees and mycorrhizal fungus. Below we will explain the amazing powers of the fungi, discuss why autumn is the ideal time to nurture this collaboration and suggest natural means of encouraging this partnership between the tree and the mycorrhizae which is sheltering in your back garden.

Mycorrhizal Maze

Mycorrhizal fungi and tree roots partner together to form an underground maze which helps trees obtain it’s moisture and nutrients with greater ease. In return, these tiny micro-organisms collect sugars and carbohydrates which they would otherwise lack, showing how vital this arrangement is for both trees and fungus. It’s in autumn, with the approach of winter looming ahead, the trees begin to ration resources and their mycorrhizal friends provide an essential expansion to the tree’s roots, assisting the storage of the much-needed nutrients and water. For more information on the relationship between trees and fungi, here’s a suggested article: Arboricultural Association – Understanding relationships between trees and fungi


That’s one of the reasons autumn is so important for this partnership between mycorrhizal and trees – another is the condition of the soil. The ground still remembers the summer warmth which is perfect for root growth while the cooler autumn temperatures ease the strain on the trees, creating an excellent environment for mycorrhizal to colonizing. Aiding the mycorrhizal fungi at this season will help give these profitable fungi a head-start, promoting the tree’s capabilities to absorb nutrients and enabling them to fight diseases and extreme weather conditions in the following months.


If you care about the welfare of your trees, you’ll be interested to know that autumn is an opportune time to introduce an organic system to foster mycorrhizal growth. A well known method is the adding of compost or well rotted manure to feed not only the soil but also the fungi. This aids the structure of the mycorrhizae which will help it to spread and vitalize. You want to be careful in your use of fertilizers, opting for the low-phosphorous, natural kind which will restore and revitalize. Instead of the harmful chemical ridden fertilizers which may bring harm to both the fungus and the tree.


By learning about the incredible uses of the mycorrhizae, you’ve taken another step in understanding how to best nurture your tree. Perhaps take some time out to do what you can to aid the growth of the underground network hiding beneath your soil. By aiding this symbiotic partnership, you are equipping your trees with greater resilience to last out bitter winter months and giving them a head start for growth in spring. So while you may be enjoying looking up at your trees, don’t forget that underneath your feet a truly fascinating process is taking place and it’s working to fill you world full of strong healthy trees.


The mycorrhizae is one way that your trees are assisted in their growth, but there are others that you can do. If you want to read more on how you can help your trees, check out some more of our pages. You can learn the benefits of pruning a tree in the summer or be informed on how best to guard your trees against winter storms.

The benefits of summer tree pruning – Roots and Shoots Manchester

Protect your trees against storms – Roots and Shoots Manchester

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