There is something happening beneath your feet. It is not widely known and cannot be seen with the naked eye. Yet it’s profound in its importance for life on earth.
What is this mysterious phenomena? Fungus, that’s what. A giant web of interconnected fungus called mycorrhizae. Scientists think it is the largest single organism on earth.
Not only that but it helps feed most of the world’s ecosystems. The fungus breakdown rock and minerals and collect water in exchange for sugars from plants. A win-win for both. Those minerals are then passed through plants to animals in an ever-expanding cycle of nutrients.
In nature, more than 90 percent of plant species form a symbiotic arrangement with this beneficial soil fungi called mycorrhizae. After roots are colonized by mycorrhizae, threads or “hyphae” develop and can extend far into the surrounding soil environment.
Mycorrhizae are fundamental in helping supply the water and nutrients needed for enhancing plant vigor. In exchange, they receive essential sugars and other compounds supplied by the plant. They also release powerful compounds into the surrounding environment which can capture nitrogen, phosphorous, magnesium, iron and other plant nutrients. This extraction process is particularly important in plant vigor and explains why mycorrhizal inoculations have been so successful.
It's also been discovered that a single Douglas fir tree can have as many as 50 species of mycorrhizae growing on them at a time and over 200 in its lifetime1. Even desert environments rely heavily on the fungus for water storage and drought tolerance.
Mycorrhizae are a great addition to any garden and help your plants ability to deal with stress and enhance nutrient uptake.
- Smith, S., Mycorrhizal Symbiosis (3rd ), 47.