Early October is within our six month window to continue to track the growth of eucalyptus sprouting and possible decomposition of the inoculated stumps. The California dry season also falls within this six month window and we did not expect to see much mycelial growth, but we did notice some. Both Laetiporus gilbersonii and Trametes versicolor plus an, as yet, unidentified polypore are found growing in the immediate vicinity and in two cases on inoculated stumps. We also found mycelia growing in the inoculations.
At Redwood and Tilden Parks we weighed the removed material, at Gateway we did not. There was a surprising bit of variation in the amount of sprouting that the individual stumps produced. While an average weight of 4 pounds was typical we did find stumps that produced as much as sixteen pounds and also some that had no growth at all. This will provide us with a baseline to chart future changes.
We took GPS coordinates for future researchers to locate our site and those will be available in the near future.
BAAM had an eventful April, 2016. We began initial testing of our approach to decomposing Eucalyptus stumps at three locations in the East Bay hills. We were able to partner with the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) on one of them and with the East Bay Regional Park (EBRP) system on two others. We inoculated sixty nine recently cut stumps at the three locations.
Why this is important is because the chosen method for the decomposition of eucalyptus stumps is the application of ‘Garlon’ a specialty herbicide that’s quite controversial to local communities downstream of the applied area. We hope that a successful inoculation of two locally sourced saprophytic fungi, Laetiporus gilbertsonii (Sulphur Shelf) and Trametes versicolor (Turkey Tail) will shorten the decomposition time of the Eucalyptus stumps and forestall the future application of herbicide. Eucalyptus, love it or hate it, is a very successful propagator. Not only can it regenerate from cut stumps but the downed logs and even the chips have a substantially long decomposition time. Public agencies like EBMUD and EBRP feel the need to quickly reduce fuel as a means of fire suppression and also to lessen the labor load of frequent site visits to remove new sprouts originating from the stumps. A ‘natural’ method sometimes lags behind in terms of time as beneficial fungi are not always in the immediate vicinity of the cut area. If our inoculation can shorten this period than perhaps the use of Garlon type products will be used as a last resort instead of a default practice. Our goal is to move from ‘better living through chemistry’ to ‘better living through mycology’.
Our basic technique is for the cut end of the stumps to be prepared by cross-hatching grooves into them to serve as an anchoring surface for the prepared spawn to be pressed into. The spawn was prepared for us by Far West Fungi in Moss Landing who took local specimens, cultured them and grew them out on oak sawdust. The Laetiporus gilbertsonii is a cellulose decomposer and the Trametes versicolor a lignin one so we felt we could grow both together on certain stumps but we also spread our experiment around to include both single specie inoculations and controlled ‘no inoculation’ samples. In some cases we prepared eucalyptus dowels grown in myceliated spawn and plugged directly into non cut end horizontal surfaces. Afterwards we covered the working area in burlap to retain additional moisture and we tagged the stumps for data entry.
Our continued responsibility is to return every six months to monitor the sites, cut and weigh any new sprouts and keep an accurate journal of observations and conclusions we can take from this research. Hopefully, the mycelia will compare well and entities like our Park system will make it a permanent feature in their ‘best practice’ toolbox.
Bringing material to Redwood Park, Oakland site.
We also inoculated in Tilden Park, Berkeley and at the Gateway in Orinda.
In February of 2012 Bay Area Applied Mycology (BAAM) inaugurated our first project with EBMUD. The object was to add mycorrhizal fungi to Live Oak seedlings in the EBMUD nursery. Mycorrhizal fungi have a very important symbiotic relationship with all specie of plant life and young plants especially gain benefits from the establishment of fungi interlaced with their root system.
The Live Oak seedling were to be planted in various areas of the EBMUD watershed in April and little time was available to use the practice of growing seedling among known Mother trees (*), trees that have established mycorrhizal partners. This is the most preferred method but seedling grown thusly need between one to three years to acquire the fungal partners that are growing in that area. It was necessary that we use the more expedient method of gathering local mycorrhizals, stripping the spore bearing gills and stems, pureeing them together and pouring the resultant slurry directly onto the nursery seedling. A group of five people took part in a collecting foray on four occasions and brought back what mycorrhizals we found growing amidst Live Oak. The predominant species were Cantharellus californius and Clitocybe Nuda.
The actual planting of the seedling took place in various parts of the Orinda Watershed. For our part we joined together with a 6th grade science class from the Black Pine Circle School of Berkeley and combined the planting of ten of the seedlings with a mycological lecture: from life cycle to beneficial purposes.
(*) What else we learned. Although the Mother Tree idea is a good one, planting seedlings at a MT. location and transplanting them later, one can also opt to remove some soil from a Mother Tree site and plant your seedling directly into it. Bear in mind that this will work best when the seedling are of an age that they can produce enough sugars to support both themselves and their mycorrhizal partners.
One day’s collection of Cantharellus californius. Notice mycelium growning on stem butt
Live Oak seedlings in EBMUD nursery
The children broke up into teams and did the actual hand’s on planting and our team of volunteers went behind to tag and take GPS coordinates for future study.
Monica and Mino tagging tree and taking GPS Co-ordinate
Tagged Oak seedling
A job well done
*We are sorry that we are not allowed to include pictures of the children who helped us in this fine effort. Apparantly there are privacy issues.
Report on Monterey Pine Decomposition by Bay Area Applied Mycology on EBMUD Duffel Meadow
East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) in collaboration with Bay Area Applied Mycology (BAAM).
Scott Hill, Manager of Watershed and Recreation
Virginia Northrop, Senior Ranger
On November 13, 2012 three members of BAAM inoculated a freshly fallen Monterey Pine, Pinus radiata, with the spawn of Oyster Mushroom, Pleurotus pulmonarius, with the intention of enhancing the tree’s rate of decomposition. The fallen tree is located in a Monterey Pine grove on the property of the East Bay Municipal Utilities District (EBMUD) in Orinda, California.
On December 10, 2012 four members of BAAM inoculated a second fallen Monterey Pine with different species of mushroom mycelium. This procedure is discussed and pictures are displayed further into this report.
Amendments and observations are added to the end of the report.
The purpose of this project is to develop a new method for EBMUD to handle felled and fallen trees that will both A) eliminate the cost of removing fallen trees from EBMUD property, B) keep natural materials on site and C) reduce fire vulnerability.
EBMUD currently utilizes horses to haul fallen trees from their property. This current method reduces potential fuel for fires. However, hiring horses to haul fallen trees can be a fairly costly operation, and doing so also removes organic materials from the site.
By introducing mushroom spawn (also known as mycelium) into the freshly fallen tree, BAAM hopes to enhance the tree’s rate of decomposition. Once the spawn has been introduced to the tree, no further modifications will be made. Later stages of decomposition via bacteria and other fungi will occur naturally.
A secondary benefit of introducing mycelium to the fallen tree is a way of storing water inside the tree while the decomposition process occurs, thus potentially preventing the tree from becoming fodder for fires.
This project hopes to create new solutions and act as a source of observation for future projects.
This tree’s decomposition will be observed and documented over the next decade.
What is considered “successful decomposition” hasn’t been determined, however BAAM estimates the process will take five to ten years.
Notes and Observations
The Monterey Pines in the grove were planted in the 1940s. They are considered to be at the end of their life cycle. Because they were planted in a non-native habitat, they are beginning to weaken and fall.
This specific tree was chosen because it had fallen due to apparent natural causes and was still fresh. The tree was in a spacious and shaded grove of other Monterey Pines.
Periodic observation and documentation is necessary to track the results of this project. Checking and documenting changes to the site should occur once a season/four times a year. We don’t know for certain how long the tree will take to decompose. We theorize five to ten years. We don’t know for sure, and we haven’t decided what stage of decomposition is considered “successfully decomposed” enough to prevent it from fueling fires.
Materials and Labor
The on-site process took three hours, working comfortably, with three men sharing labor.
Two strains of Pleurotus pulmonarius mushroom spawn were used. The organic material used to inoculate the trees was spawned wooden dowels and spawned wheat straw. The first strain, which was grown on wooden dowels, was supplied by Fungi Perfecti. The second strain, which was initially grown on millet, then transferred and allowed to colonize on wheat straw, was purchased from Amycel.
Equipment: a chainsaw; some drills, drill bits, and batteries; nails; hammer; dowel spawn and straw spawn; rope; a crowbar; paraffin wax; a pot and stove in which to melt the wax; gloves to protect against heat of the wax; a brush to apply the melted wax; burlap bags; water
Six areas of the tree were modified. A large portion of the tree wasn’t modified. The following documentation includes photographs which may help to understand the procedures and materials used.
The freshly fallen Monterey Pine
Area 1 is closest to the base of the tree. Sean drilled about 150 holes into the tree with a 5/16” drill bit and plugged the holes with Pleurotus pulmonarius spawned dowels from Fungi Perfecti. By using a nail as a punch, we were able to hammer the dowels about an inch below the surface. I covered a few of those plugged spots with paraffin wax.
Sean drills holes into tree. Exposed dowels are shown before they were hammered into the tree
Mino scored the tree in a grid with a chainsaw. I stuffed it with Pleurotus pulmonarius straw spawn from one of Mino’s bags. The spawn originated from Amycel. The modified area was then covered with a soaked burlap sack and tied to the tree. The use of the burlap bag was intended to prevent direct sunlight from affecting the area, to trap in moisture, and to allow it to breathe.
Mino scores Area 2 of the tree
Gashes stuffed with straw spawn in Area 2
Scored and inoculated section covered with a burlap sack in Area
We originally intended to lift the bark off the fallen tree in sections so that we could apply the spawn directly to the exposed wood, then place the sections of bark back onto the tree as a protective covering. However, when we pulled at the bark, it chipped off. We instead decided to inoculate the tree by scoring the tree and stuffing the gashes with spawn, then covering the inoculated area with a burlap sack.
Instead of lifting off in sections, bark chipped off
Same as Area 2 and covered with burlap. The burlap sack was nailed to the tree in 6 points.
Sean stands over Area 3 before it was covered with a burlap sack
A sort of control group. Mino scored this area like he did with Areas 2 and 3, but we decided to leave the area uncovered and uninoculated in order to observe how this area of the fallen tree would rot over time in comparison to the inoculated areas.
Area 4, left scored but uninoculated and uncovered
Mino cut wedges into the tree with a chainsaw and I filled the exposed surface areas with Pleurotus pulmonarius spawn originally from Amycel. Straw was forced into the area around the wedge with a crowbar. We then covered the area with a soaked burlap sack and nailed it to the tree.
Area 5 before burlap covering
Wedge sections of Area 5
Mino drilled holes into Area 6 and stuffed the holes with Fungi Perfecti’s Pleurotus pulmonarius spawned dowels just like Area 1. I covered nearly all the holes with melted paraffin wax. The wax is meant to both protect the mycelium from bugs and trap moisture in the holes.
Paraffin wax covering a hole inoculated by dowel spawn, Area 6
A Second Tree is Inoculated
On December 10, 2012, BAAM inoculated a second fallen tree in close proximity to the first with three different strains of mushroom, two of which were collected on EBMUD property.
It is with the goals and visions of BAAM to utilize local strains of mushrooms.
The three strains of mushrooms used includes a locally sampled strain of Pleurotus pulmonarius provided by Far West Fungi, and two strains of as-of-yet not identified species of wood-rotters. The wood-rotters in question were collected from wood chip piles in front of the EBMUD property. Myceliated wood chips, as well as mushroom fruit bodies of these strains were collected.
Currently, these strains are suspected of being a Pholiota sp. and a Gymnopilus sp. Identification still required. They were fruiting prodigiously from the wood chips, and digging through a shallow layer of the wood chips revealed the mycelium was “running” strong.
Local wood rotter with running mycelium
Mino collects mushrooms and wood chips covered with mycelium Monica snaps photos
Locally collected mushrooms and wood chips. Possibly “Psathyrella sp.”
As with the first tree, parts of this tree were scored in order to insert spawn. This method was designed to accelerate the decomposition of the tree. The four areas of the second tree are labeled Areas 7 through 10.
A section of the tree closest to its base was scored in wedges. Sawdust spawn colonized by Pleurotus pulmonarius provided by Far West Fungi was then packed into the open sections of the tree and the wedges were replaced. We covered the area with burlap. The burlap is intended to provide shade and to trap moisture.
Katie, Monica, and Canus mycophilicus Issa packspawn into the openings of the tree
Parallel cuts were scored into the tree, and the same spawn from Area 7 was applied to the opening of the tree. We covered the area with burlap.
Monica and Katie stuffing the tree with Pleurotus pulmonarius.
Wedges were scored into the tree. The fruit bodies and the wood chips with mycelium of a Psathyrella sp. [needs proper identification] were then placed onto the opening and covered with burlap. By using both myceliated wood chips and mushroom fruit bodies, we intend for both active cultures and potential new strains germinated from the spores of the mushroom to colonize and thrive within the wounds of the fallen tree.
Wedges were cut and filled with local myceliated wood chips and mushrooms
On a segment of the tree that was separated from its larger body, we applied myceliated wood chips and the fruit bodies of a mushroom we suspect to be a Gymnopilus sp. [identification needed] that was collected in front of the EBMUD office. We scored the area in stripes, removed the bark, applied the mushroom and wood chips, replaced the bark, and covered the area with a burlap bag.
The scored area of the tree is filled with myceliated wood chips and mushroom fruit bodies
Note-taker Joe sketches mushrooms next to Area 10
As an ongoing effort to track the progress of this project, we have taken periodic photographs. Area 7, February 9, 2013
Photo by Mino de Angelis
This photo shows the health of the spawn of Area 7. Although we don’t know if the mushrooms are fruiting solely from the sawdust spawn provided by Far West Fungi or if it is decomposing and extracting any nutrients from the fallen tree, this fruiting shows that the spawn is at least active, and has enough moisture to produce mushrooms. Area 8, February 9, 2013
Photo by Mino de Angelis
Area 8 is exhibiting the same traits as Area 7 as shown above.
As a continued update: In 2013 oyster mushrooms were found fruiting in areas of the log that were not directly inoculated. The mycelium appears to be running.
In 2015, three years into a devastating drought, the initial log that was inoculated was cut through close to our inoculation point. The exposed area shows decomposition has moved toward the core of the tree. As the lignin and cellulose decompose they reduce the threat of flammability of the log.
Decomposition starting from the perimeter toward center of log
Old Man Ridge Inoculation of Felled Pines with Mushroom Spawn
Introduction: Based on the success of our earlier test on Pine in Duffel Meadow we thought it feasible to inoculate additional felled Pines that EBMUD, due to disease and age, had taken down in an area known as Old Man Ridge. In November of 2012 BAAM inoculated about twenty-five of these trees with an assortment of myceliated spawn contributed to us by Far West Fungi. We used one of the original species, Pleurotus pulmonarius, but also experimented with Hericium erinaceus and at a later date added some locally harvested saprophytes: Gymnopilus junonius and Phaeolus schweinitzii.
The trees were felled by a team of professional loggers and laid in stacks about 6 to 8 logs 10 feet long. They were then notched according to our instructions. The notches were large enough to allow the crevices to be stuffed with spawn and the wedges to be reinstalled to mitigate moisture loss. On our first outing a team of 15 volunteers stuffed the logs with spawn. Subsequent site visits were done with a team of four that tagged and noted GPS coordinates of the logs to allow follow-up studies.
We allowed for both inoculated logs and a control group of uninoculated logs.
In 2013 we noticed a high success rate amongst the Pleurotus pulmonarius inoculated logs.
View from Old Man Ridge
An example of the log grouping that we inoculated
The prepared notches
The team getting their first look at the method we will employ
Packing spawn into the notches
Oysters growing the next year from out of notch
Gymnopilus junonius fruiting from a pine stump
GPS Coordinates for follow-up study
To date 2015, despite Northern California’s three year drought, we have had enough favorable results to continue with the project on additional felled pine. For the 2014 season EBMUD personnel both notched and inoculated another 50 trees with Pleurotus pulmonarius provided by Far West Fungi. BAAM will continue to monitor all three of these sites.