Can You Grow Mushrooms on Live Trees?

Mushrooms have always been forged for food, and gathering wild mushrooms is an exciting hobby. 

However, if you’re trying to grow mushrooms for commercial or even personal use, you will be asking a few questions. So, can you grow mushrooms on live trees?

Mushrooms can grow on live trees, but they might damage the trees in the long run. You should consider growing mushrooms on tree stumps, logs, and fallen branches. 

Although some mushrooms naturally grow on the live trees in your backyard or garden, not all wild mushrooms are safe. Some types don’t damage the trees when they’re grown on fresh wood, while others will slowly kill your trees. 

Keep on reading to learn more about growing mushrooms on live trees. 

Why Should You Grow Mushrooms on Trees?

Mushrooms are relatively easy to grow, and growing them on trees comes with several benefits. 

  • Trees provide the needed nutrition to help mushrooms grow. 
  • You can increase your income without any additional costs because you already have the trees. 
  • You can grow a variety of edible and medicinal mushrooms. 
  • You will add value to wood species that you might not be able to sell or make use of because they’re less desirable. 
  • Instead of getting rid of fallen branches, they can be used to grow mushrooms for food or medicine. 

Can You Grow Mushrooms on All Live Trees?

Yes, you can. However, some types of mushrooms prefer specific types of trees to grow on. 

In general, all types of hardwood trees will be suitable for the growth of edible mushrooms. 

Shiitake mushrooms will grow best on oak and red maple trees. Oyster mushrooms will grow best on birch, alder, elm, beech, and willow trees. 

Softwood trees can also be used to grow mushrooms if these are the ones you have available. However, the yield is usually smaller as the wood tends to decompose faster. 

Do Mushrooms Damage Live Trees?

Not all mushrooms are harmful to trees, but most of them are. As a matter of fact, mushrooms growing on a tree trunk represent a sign that the trunk is decaying. 

Mushrooms enter the trees through wounds that are caused by lightning, improper pruning, fire, or any other damage. If you see mushrooms growing on a tree, you might need to call an arborist to examine your tree. 

When mushrooms grow around the base of the tree, they usually indicate that the roots are weakened. Most types of wild mushrooms are opportunists, so they will grow to indicate that there’s something wrong with the tree, although they might not cause the damage in the first place. 

Are All Wild Mushrooms Edible?

No, only some wild mushrooms are edible; the rest are highly poisonous. Although gathering mushrooms can be extremely rewarding, you need to be careful because some types can cause severe illness or even death when consumed. 

You can harvest wild mushrooms from trees, even if you haven’t grown them. Nevertheless, you need to make sure that you’re not harvesting toxic or deadly mushrooms. 

Edible wild mushrooms can grow on stumps of trees. Maitake, oyster, and sulfur shelf mushrooms are among the most popular wild mushrooms that you can easily consume. 

Oyster mushrooms are among the most popular types of mushrooms because they’re less demanding and are suitable for beginners. They also have a high nutritional value and can be easily marketed. 

Compared to other types of mushrooms, these are the fastest to grow. Once they have been established on a live tree or a broken log, oyster mushrooms can grow for several years. 

Shiitake mushrooms are also widely grown on live and fallen trees. These mushrooms add a distinctive flavor to Asian dishes and have medicinal benefits as they improve the immune system. 

Lion’s Mane mushrooms are also edible, but they’re more difficult to market since people aren’t that familiar with them. There are lots of other types of mushrooms that you can grow on trees, including the maitake, pioppini, and reishi mushrooms, which are mainly harvested for medicinal purposes. 

Other types are highly poisonous and can cause death if consumed. 

Can You Grow Mushrooms on Fallen Branches?

Yes, mushrooms can easily grow on tree stumps, fallen branches, and trunks of dying trees. As long as the wood is not rotten or decaying, mushrooms can grow on the tree trunks without sterilization. 

If the sap is still leaking out of the cut-out branches or tree stumps, it’s best to wait until the sap dries out, as it might cause the mushrooms to rot and not grow properly. 

You should also make sure that the bark is intact to provide the mushrooms with the needed nutrition. When the bark is intact, it prevents the evaporation, providing the mushrooms with the right level of moisture. 

In some cases, if the bark isn’t intact, unwanted fungi might grow and affect your mushrooms harvest. 

Bigger logs will take more time for the mushrooms to grow, so you should always pick smaller logs and branches for spawning. If you wish to grow Lion’s Mane mushrooms, you might want to stick to larger logs, as they will help mushrooms grow bigger. 

How Can You Grow Mushrooms on Tree Stumps?

After cutting trees down, you can make use of the remaining tree stumps by growing edible mushrooms. 

  • The surface of the stump is drilled in a zigzag pattern. 
  • The spawn is inserted in the holes. 
  • The stump is covered with soil, leaves, or a plastic film to protect the spawn from being eaten by the animals. 
  • Wait until white rings start to appear to indicate that mycelium has grown on the stump. You can remove the protection or keep the stump partially covered. 
  • Keep the stump away from direct sunlight and strong wind. Mushrooms need to grow in humid conditions, and excessive sunlight will dry them out. 
  • Keep the logs under a canopy or up against the side of a building to provide shade.
  • Stumps and logs should also be close to a water source because you need to keep the surface moist to promote the fast growth of mushrooms. You need to spray the logs and branches with water at least 2 or 3 times per week to keep them moist. 

Which Trees Should Be Chosen for Growing Mushrooms?

Only healthy live trees or logs should be chosen for growing mushrooms. If there’s any kind of decay or rotting on the tree, this will affect your yield’s quantity and quality. 

Rot and decay are caused by several types of fungi that compete for the same nutrients. Mushrooms will grow best during fall and are best harvested in winter when the trees are dormant. 

Pick trees that are kept in the shade because sunlight will affect the growth of mushrooms. Healthy trees will work better because they will help the mushrooms grow properly. 

How Long Do Mushrooms Take to Grow on Trees?

When you’re using logs or branches to grow mushrooms, they will take between 1 and 2 years to be ready for harvest. 

The same log can be used to grow mushrooms for up to 7 years, or until the log has completely decayed and decomposed. 

Wrap Up

Mushrooms can naturally grow on live trees or fallen branches. You can easily grow them on the trees you already have in your backyard or garden. 

Once mushrooms have been introduced into a tree, they will grow for several years. However, they will damage live trees in the long run, so they are best grown on fallen branches and logs.