It’s tough to find truffles, isn’t it? I know! I’ve been interested in searching for truffles for a long time, but they always seem to be hiding, don’t they?
Whether you’re looking for truffles in nature or hunting them down in the supermarket, it’s not each to come across truffles. But searching for them in the wild sounds like it could be a lot of fun and pretty rewarding too, doesn’t it?
If you live in a part of the world where truffles grow naturally, you’re in luck! You have the unique opportunity to go out and look for truffles on truffle trees. You can learn to recognize what trees do truffles grow under and start digging them up right away!
But what is a truffle tree? How can you find them when you’re wandering through the forest? Is it easy to tell when a tree has a truffle growing on its roots or is it something you’ll need help with?
If you’re looking for answers to these questions and much more, you’re in the right place. In this article, I’ll explain:
- Which truffles grow under what trees?
- How to tell when a truffle is growing?
- How to safely harvest them when you find them?
I’ll also explain to you where to buy black and white truffle trees, and how to care for those you might find in the wild.
So, if you’re looking for some great information to help you get started looking for wild-growing truffles... READ ON!
A Brief Introduction to Truffles
Truffles are an incredible delicacy in the culinary world. They’re very popular and have been widely accepted as one of the most expensive and rarest forms of edible ingredients. Throughout time, they’ve historically been known as delicious treats that were once considered to have mystical healing powers. Although we now understand that there’s nothing magical about truffles, they’re still regarded as something very special, and they’re treated with a lot of respect!
There are two common types of truffles: black and white. However, among these categories, truffles can be further divided into several different subsections. There are a couple of different kinds of white truffle, and several versions of black truffles available on the worldwide market. Of course, different types bring different prices, and certain truffles cost significantly more than others. White Alba truffles are the most expensive, while Chinese black truffles are usually the last valuable.
Simply put, truffles are a type of fungus. They are related to mushrooms, but they aren’t exactly the same. The various strains of truffle come from the same family but aren’t all the same either. The truffle fungus grows on the roots of certain types of trees, under very specific conditions, and only in particular parts of the world. Although the situation has to be just right for a truffle to form, once it does, it is usually a part of that tree for years to come.
What Are Truffle Trees?
The easy answer to this question is that truffle trees are trees in which truffles grow! Of course, you need to know more information than that before you go out and start digging in the dirt in search of delicious fungi. Depending on where you’re located, you might come across many different types of trees that can house truffles. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with what these trees can look like so you have a better chance of spotting them when you go out walking in the woods.
The most common places to find truffles growing are the roots of nut trees. This can include beech, hazelnut, and pecan trees, but may include many others too. However, these aren’t the only trees you should keep an eye on if you go in search of truffles growing in the wild! In the Pacific Northwest region of the United States, truffles have been found more and more frequently growing on fir, hemlock, pine, and spruce trees. They’ve been turning up on willows in European countries, as well.
Companies that provide truffle trees for sale also offer other variations, including filbert trees, oak trees, and periodically other options for those who are looking to try their hand at growing truffles on many different tree species.
How to Identify a Truffle Tree
So what tree do truffles grow under anyway? While we’ve already discussed the species of trees you should keep an eye on when searching for truffles, there are other factors you need to consider to help make your hunt go that much more smoothly. For example, if you’re looking for willow trees in the United States, you probably aren’t going to find any truffles for your efforts. So far, no United States willows have successfully produced truffles, but the same is not true in other parts of the world.
Keep in mind that there are some types of trees that will never grow truffles. They simply cannot form the symbiotic relationship necessary to keep both the truffle and the tree alive. These include cedar and maple trees, so it’s a good idea to remember this when you’re looking through the woods or choosing trees to grow on your own property for truffle cultivation. Don’t waste time with trees that won’t be of any help to you!
One of the easiest ways to identify a truffle tree, even if you have a hard time remembering which types of trees to look for and which to avoid, is to employ a dog or a pig to help you! Female pigs have historically been used to identify truffle trees, but unfortunately, they sometimes eat the truffles before their human companions can have a chance to dig them up. Dogs, on the other hand, can be trained to sniff out truffles and won’t harm the crop in the process. If you have the ability to do so, bring along a little animal help to make your truffle tree search even easier.
Where Can Truffle Trees Be Found?
Truffles grow on trees around the world, but they aren’t very common. Of course, their rarity has a lot to do with their price, and it drives up their value by quite a lot! Most truffles can be found in Europe, with Alba white truffles growing in northern Italy and Perigord black truffles located in a specific region of France. England and other parts of Europe are also home to variations on black and white truffles, although they aren’t quite as expensive as the ones for which the truffle variations are named.
In the United States, truffles have been growing more and more frequently in Oregon and other parts of the Pacific Northwest. They have also been grown in North Carolina and in Texas, mostly on pecan trees. Although these black truffles are still very valid and delicious, they aren’t the same as European black truffles and their taste and price both reflect that change.
It’s hard to find truffles anywhere else in the world aside from Europe and certain parts of the United States, although they’re beginning to crop up in Australia and around the world as well. However, within the more common areas, truffle trees can be found anywhere the soil reaches a pH of between 8 and 8.3, and where the trees can experience all four distinguished seasons.
Different Types of Truffle Trees
We touched briefly before on the different types of truffle trees around the world, but here, I will go into more detail and explain to you just how to recognize these trees, and which ones are most likely to produce what types of truffles and where.
- Oak Trees – These trees can be easily identified by looking at their leaves. They should have repeating patterns of lobes that stick out from the center of the leaf and indentations that look like scoops out of the sides. They can be green during the warmer months but will change colors in the fall.
- Beech Trees – Beech trees have leaves that look almost rounded, but have sharp points on the ends opposite their stems. The leaves have clearly defined veins running from the center to the outside of the leaf. These trees often produce nuts, too, which can help aid in identifying them.
- Pecan Trees – The leaves of pecan trees are attached to long, thin branches and shoot off on both sides. They are usually teardrop-shaped, and a single branch can have dozens of leaves attached to it. Pecan trees also may produce nuts that can help you narrow down the type of tree you’re looking at.
- Hazelnut Trees – The leaves of a hazelnut tree are more rounded and larger than the leaves of the other nut trees listed here. They may be softer as well. Of course, keep an eye out for the hazelnuts themselves on these trees.
How to Spot Truffles on Trees
Since truffles grow just beneath the surface of the soil, they can be pretty tough to spot, especially if you’ve never had a lot of experience looking for them before. However, there are a few different ways you can learn to find truffles and take a lot of the guesswork out of your exploration, even without the use of pigs or dogs.
- Truffle Flies – These tiny insects are fond of truffles, so if you see a lot of them swarming around a tree, chances are you’re looking in the right place. The females of the species lay eggs near truffles, so if you can find the flies and follow them to the females, you should be very close to your prize. They’re very small and hard to see, however, so it’s worth your while to learn how to recognize them before you head out into the woods. They’re smaller than house flies, but with slender bodies, and they aren’t likely to be out if it’s raining or very cloudy.
- Brule – One of the most popular ways to find truffles is to look for brule around the trees. When truffles grow beneath a tree, they begin to emit toxic fumes that kill off a lot of the plant life in the general vicinity. Because of this, you might notice areas of the ground that look like they’ve been scorched surrounding specific trees. This is called brule. If you notice brule, you’re in the right place, but remember that white Alba truffles (the most valuable in the world) don’t cause this to happen, so you’ll need to use another method.
- Raking – If all else fails, gently rake away the layer of top soil underneath a tree that you suspect might hold a truffle. Be very careful, however, not to damage the truffle if you use this method. It’s not generally one of the better methods for truffle hunting, but it can be effective in some instances.
How to Harvest Truffles from Trees
When you find a truffle on a truffle tree, it’s time to harvest it! This is a very simple process. All you have to do is bring along a sharp knife and slice the truffle away from the root on which it is growing. Be very careful not to cut away the entire truffle, and do not harvest it if it hasn’t had time to mature yet! Mature truffles smell very fragrant when you get close to them and should be easy to identify. If you don’t smell anything, don’t cut the truffle. Note that not all truffles will require cutting, and some can simply be removed by hand.
How to Care for Wild Truffle Trees
When you find truffles growing in the wild, you might be tempted to jump right in and start slicing away the truffles! This is a common response, especially for a first-time truffle hunter, but it’s important to know how to take care of the wild truffle trees you come across to keep them producing fruit for years to come. Follow these tips for the best results.
- Try not to rake. Raking can do a lot of damage to the trees, roots, and plants nearby. This is only acceptable if you’ve tried every other option first and still can’t find truffles, or can’t dig them up easily.
- Use dogs as often as possible, since they don’t damage the trees in any way. Pigs may damage roots when they start sniffing for truffles, and they may eat the whole truffle and leave nothing to grow in the future.
- Whether you dig or rake, be sure to replace the soil you move when you leave! Don’t leave a big hole in the ground at the base of the tree. Put everything back the way you found it, including the dirt and duff.
- Once again, don’t take away truffles that haven’t matured yet. This will keep them from growing on the same tree in the future.
Where to Buy Black and White Truffle Trees
It’s getting easier to find truffle trees that have already been injected with the fungus necessary to help them grow black or white truffles. Even when you purchase one of these inoculated trees, however, keep in mind that this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get truffles. It just gives you a much better chance. Check out these two popular places to find black and white truffle trees for sale online.
- Garland Truffles – This company provides a handful of different tree varieties including filberts, English oaks, holly oaks, and downy oaks. By default, the trees are injected with Perigord black truffle fungus or Burgundy black truffle fungus, but for an additional charge, you can try your hand at growing white truffles instead.
- New World Truffles – To find the best black truffle trees for sale, check out the options from New World Truffles. They offer English oak, holly oak, and hazelnut trees inoculated with black truffle fungus. This company also offers pecan truffle trees, Burgundy truffle trees, and white truffle trees on special request and at an additional cost.
It’s time to go truffle hunting!
Now that you’ve read through this article, you should have a better understanding of truffle trees as well as the ability to answer once and for all the question you’ve been asking: “What trees do truffles grow on?”
It’s tough to find truffles growing on trees, but when you do, you can enjoy a lot of benefits and a great reward. It’s so exciting to finally stumble across the perfect tree while out on a truffle hunt, start digging, and find a beautiful truffle specimen growing just beneath the dirt! When you head out into the woods armed with your newfound information, you’ll have no trouble getting right to the heart of your search for truffles.
Of course, if you want to grow truffle trees yourself on your own land, you can always go that route as well. It’s easy to grow the trees, but it can be a challenge to get the truffles to form on them in the first place. There are plenty of steps you’ll need to follow to grow truffles on trees, but that’s just another fun learning process you can look into in some of my other articles!
Now that you know a little bit more about truffle trees, it’s time to grab your hiking buddy and go out in search of this delicious delicacy of the woods. Keep your eyes peeled, and maybe you’ll find a truffle tree during your next adventure!