Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A Pisolithus tinctorius truffle collecting hotspot @ CSUSB's parking lot Carob Trees

For three short years I visited California State University in San Bernardino, California on and off while I worked for Campus Dimensions. We promoted financial services and AT&T communications products to the students there. But every time I pulled into the public main Parking Lot, something amazing and incredible always captured my attention. Something was associated with the Parking Lot landscape island's Carob Trees.

Panoramic view of the CSUSB campus against the San Bernardino Mountains. (Amerique 2009)

image - CSUSB
That attention capturing phenomena was the association of Pisolithus tinctorius mycorrhizal truffle formation on the parking area's numerous Carob Trees (Ceratonia siliqua). An amazing tree in in that it is extremely resistence to dry heat and even extreme drought conditions. Also interesting since as a parking lot landscape choice the environmental conditions are increased greatly in the temperature department. All that asphalt baking under an already historically hot geographical location. But Carob Tree toughness alone is not enough. As with many hot and dry climate plants, there are those biological symbiotc associations which further increase survivability. The problem for me was, even though I saw it with my own eyes, I had never read about Ceratonia siliqua being a host specific associate of Pisolithus tinctorius mycorrhizal fungi on any of the official hosts lists inside any of the Scientific Literature. 

image - Marcus Wallenberg Prize
My only connection back then in the  middle 1990s as far as education and technical understanding regarding the mycorrhizal world [aside from years previous personal observation & practices] was Dr Donald Marx of Frogmore, South Carolina who eventually became chief scientist for Plant Health Care Inc. He won a Marcus Wallenberg Prize award for his groundbreaking development of a process for the selective mycorrhizal inoculation of tree nursery soils which greatly increases the growth and survival rates of conifer seedlings used in the reforestation of inhospitable soils like those of abandon mines sites. In particular he was an expert on Pisolithus tinctorius. Don was even skeptical when I informed him of Pisolithus tinctorius  colonization of an Alligator Juniper (Juniperus deppeana) I brought over from Arizona one summer and inoculated after planting. But getting back to the CSUSB Parking Lot. I once collected three medium sized plastic bags of the mature dried PT Truffles under these Carob trees for my own spore inoculum at home on my acreage in Anza California. I was however in the beginning puzzled and at that time attributed their existence to the Eucalypts also present in the parking landscape islands. But it wasn't until a study by researchers associated with the University Mohammed Premier in Oujda, Morocco that the host association I observed made any sense. There is often a feeling when you pour over many science research papers and journals today, that the only good and accurate science findings come only from the good'ol USA or perhaps Europe. It does however make sense that such findings come from researchers from the North African region of Morocco where Carob Trees are native and often farmed for various products. Here is what one reference describes as to tree distribution and uses.
"Ceratonia siliqua is native to the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East and is commonly cultivated in California. Spanish missionaries first introduced the carob tree into Mexico and southern California. In 1856, seedlings were distributed from Spain to the southern states of the US. In 1859, more seeds were brought from Israel. Many carobs were planted as ornamentals and street trees during this time in Texas, Arizona, California, and in Florida. The trees are also used for erosion control and the pods for stock feed, human consumption, commercial thickeners, pet foods, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals."
So from that brief description we see how these Carob Trees  arrived via the Spanish colonists and the uses in it's own native range. So it is logical researchers from North Africa and the Middle East would have a close vested personal interest in the cultural and economic value of this tree and potential for improved farming methods in understanding many of the natural mechanical components which can be replicated on a commercial scale. But of course I never read any of this until 2012 when it was first published. I've written about this study before, but only from the perspective of Pisolithus tinctorius mycorrhizae colonizing Date Palm (Phoenix dactylifera). (HERE)

Image - CSUSB - Parking Lot

image - Global Journals Inc

The truffles I collected at the parking area above were identical to the ones referenced here from the research article done by the scientists at University Mohamed Permier. It's just a pity it took so long to understand the truth of Carob Tree P.T. Mycorrhizal associations. When I tried explaining what I found, it was always explained away by the so-called experts. I was delusional and they were correct. Still, I would imagine the area of the CSUSB parking lot is still a hotbed of truffle collecting for those who know what to look for. So I'm apparently giving up all my former secret Pisolithus tinctorius Ectomycorrhizal truffle collecting site locations >>>  (Like Here)

Image - PlantPoints.com

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
The photograph above is of a typical Carob Tree (Ceratonia siliqua). When I went to El Cajon Valley High School in the early 1970s, they were everywhere lining the streets. They were never even watered as far as I could tell and still aren't by the Google Maps App. The CSUSB parking lot landscape trees had many of them along with Eucalyptus trees. Pisolithus tinctorius colonizes the root systems of both trees. But the majority of truffles I always found at CSUSB's parking lots were in the hard hot baked soil beneath the Carob Trees within the narrow parking lot landscape islands. I'm also fascinated by the fact that in some locations, even south of CSUSB at UC Riverside, the Carob Tree is in fact a weedy invasive. Fascinating read on underutilized uses and production of Carob trees in one of the links I've provided down below. Again, as the report brings out below, this Carob Tree and it's economic potential is little understood:
"Carob has been neglected with respect to both cultural practices and research and development. Apart from a few classic works written by interested scientists, references on this crop are scarce. We have tried to review most of the work published over the last 100 years and make useful information available to producers, processors, students, scientists and amateurs."

Quick References to this subject of Ectomycorrhizal Truffle formation on new found 'Host Plants'

Ectomycorrhization of Date Palm and Carob Plants
When Mycorrhizae debunks the Scientific Orthodoxy on what & who they'll colonize
Adenostoma fasciculatum (chamise or greasewood): Worthless Brush or potential Nurse Plant ???
DiscoverLife.org - Ceratonia siliqua
Carob tree. Ceratonia siliqua - Promoting the conservation and use of underutilized and neglected crops 
Of course in the historical past, neither the Date Palm nor the Carob tree could ever be found in any of the approved Host Plant lists for Pisolithus tinctorius or any other Mycorrhizzas as provided by most American Mycology records. Much like ectomycorrhizal (Adenostoma fasciculatum) otherwise known as Greasewood or Chamise. Not an overly popular or respected chaparral shrub which is probably why the scientific orthodoxy has ignored it for so long. And yet knowledge of the environmental cues which can trigger an epigenetic response within Chamise to manufacture the chemical messages through the plant's root exudates to inform nearby fungul spores of mycelium like PT ectomycorrhizae to form a mutualistic bonds during periods of heavier than normal wet rainy seasons could have been a sort of restoration alert to humans to get off their backsides and get busy with restoration projects. The plethora of lost opportunities in furthering increased forest ecosystem habitat spread by means of mutual cooperation between Chamise and Pines/Oaks is now lost forever. Our present climate change and global extreme drought dilemma is a testament to the inept global leadership we are all forced to subject ourselves under. Very little is written about these interactions and beneficial phenomena. The very nature of the scientific animal is that the average person is incapable of teaching them anything. Not all scientists conduct business as usual, but their numbers are very few. While there are some who are enthusiastic about mutualisms and practical applications on a potentially commercial scale, much of their work gets shelved away or appears on few websites where small groups take a real hands on interest. If this were not true, our planet Earth would look like a much different place than it is now. Fortunately many do recognize the value of what they call citizen scientists who are nothing more than folks with a heart felt passion for the natural world around them. They have no vested interest in corporate business profits. So their helpful input is often employed in some research works. Frankly, the present scientiific orthodoxy are beginning to remind me more and more of that fictional headmistress, Miss Agatha Trunchbull of the Trunchem Hall Primary School.

We really are living in spooky End Times

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