Truffle trees produce one of the world’s most valuable harvests, but most people aren’t sure what they are. In this article we look at everything you need to know about truffle trees. So, whether you are thinking of investing in truffles as an eco-friendly and sustainable way to earn passive income, or simply planting a tree in your back garden, we have all the information you need.

What Trees Can Produce Truffles?

black truffles on a wooden chopping board

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Truffle trees are not a particular species of tree that produces a harvest, like apple or mango trees. Instead, truffles grow on the root of various trees that can support them. Not all trees are compatible with the truffle fungi.

Truffle  trees include English Oak, French Oak, and White Oak. Truffles also grow on Beech, Birch, Fir, and Hazel trees.

Where Are Truffle Trees Found?

rows of hazel trees in Italy

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Truffle trees are found across the globe. In Europe they grow in parts of England, Southern France, Italy, Spain, Croatia, and Slovenia. You can also find truffle trees in the USA and Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and China.

However, not all these trees will be able to produce truffles. That’s because truffles require some very specific conditions to grow, which are only found in certain areas.

What Conditions Are Needed For Truffles To Grow?

truffle on a mini spade above black soil

Image Source: Shutterstock/Aleksandar Malivuk

For truffles to grow, a lot of different factors must come together. The first is the pH level of the soil. This needs to be between 7.6 and 8.3. If you are growing black truffles, the soil should have a high limestone content. This makes Mediterranean areas perfect for growing. Farmers can add limestone to soil if they find an area with a suitable pH. White truffle prefer sandy soil but are extremely difficult to farm.

Another important factor is that the soil should also drain well. Standing water will lead to the truffles going mouldy and dying.

As well as the correct soil, truffles need a moderate climate. Winters must be fairly mild; an early frost can prove fatal for truffles. Summers should be hot, but not too dry. An average rainfall of at least 25 inches is necessary. Commercial truffle farmers need to ensure they have an available water  supply. This way any shorfall in rain can be made up for.

Is It Easy To Grow Truffles When You Have The Right Trees?

truffle trees in the summer

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If you are lucky enough to live in an area with all the right conditions you can have some success growing truffles. Hobby farmers, for example, can expect to produce some truffles given enough time and trees.

However, it’s not accurate to say that growing truffles is easy. Once you’ve tested the soil and planted inoculated trees, you still need to carefully tend to the trees. Making sure they have sufficient water is important. During truffle season you will need to take steps to protect the truffles from animals such as wild boar who like nothing more than fresh truffles for dinner. This all takes time, effort, and patience.

How Long Do Truffle Trees Live For?

an old oak tree in the middle of a field

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Oak trees typically live 150 to 200 years. They have been known to live for 1000 years in certain cases. Beech trees have a similar lifespan. Hazel trees will live for around 80 years but if they are coppiced, they can live for hundreds of years as well.

Fir trees and birch trees have the shortest lifespan. Fir trees live for around 60 years. Birch trees will live from 55 to 85 years on average.

How Do Truffle Trees Impact The Ecosystem?

a bird feeding its chick, nest in a truffle producing tree

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Truffle trees are helping to reforest parts of Europe that have been without trees for decades. The impact of war, drought and the building of homes and roads depleted thousands of hectares of European forest. Truffle tree plantations are helping to bring back the original ecosystem, bringing numerous benefits for the countryside. While more truffle plantations alone won’t bring back European forests, they are making a welcome contribution.

This is vital for native flora and fauna, who need these woodland areas to survive. Without the forests, their populations have been in steady decline. The root systems of the truffles help to stabilize the earth, helping to prevent dust bowls from forming in the dry countryside. The truffle trees planted by Truffle Farms Europe require minimal water. We are growing in sympathy with the surrounding area, and not depriving it of vital water. Our trees are perfectly suited to growing in Southern Europe, which is why we chose them.

How Expensive Are Truffle Trees?

field with neat rows of truffle producing trees

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If you have time to plant an acorn, and wait for it to grow, then truffle trees can be completely free. If you prefer to plant a more mature tree for your garden, expect to pay $30 for a 3-year-old tree.

If you want to buy truffle trees as an investment, you can buy ¼ of an acre for far less than you might imagine. Best of all, these trees pay out each year after harvest season, setting up an annual source of income.Our conservative projections estimate an ROI of over 800% after 30 years for a quarter acre. Investors wanting to buy a hectare of truffle trees can expect an ROI of over 1400%. Payments start after the 3rd year, which is much sooner than a timber forestry invesment.

How Can You Tell If A Tree Has Truffles?

a truffle hound laying down while man shows off truffle the dog found

Image Source: Shutterstock/grafvision

The best way to find truffles is by using a trained dog or pig. These animals have a great nose and will sniff out any truffles they pass. Watching them happily go about their work is one of the best parts of the whole process. Training a pig or dog to hunt for truffles takes time and patience, and not every animal is suitable. But when you find a good one they are worth their weight in truffles. 

Assuming you don’t have access to a trained dog or pig, there is another way to recognise the presence of truffles. The suillia fly is a small insect that lays its eggs close to truffles. If you see this fly near the root of a tree, truffles are usually close by.

Another thing to look out for is signs that animals have been digging. Wild animals such as boars enjoy truffles and will try to dig them out. They’re not always successful though, so it’s worth investigating any spots where they’ve been active.

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