Truffles live in a natural symbiotic relationship (mycorrhiza) with forest trees and shrubs in most forest ecosystems.
Except for well-known nutritional importance and unique aroma of truffles, their reported biological activities have also drawn scientific attention as they are believed to have positive effects in the development of truffle-related products. They have positive impact on human health and well-being.
White truffles develop underground, at a depth of only a few and up to 30 cm. They are irregular in shape, can be from 2-6 (max. 20) cm in length and weigh in average 200-300 g, but can sometimes reach more than a kilogram. White truffles can be found in sandy-clay soils with a certain content of carbonates, in flood lowland forests in the humid valleys or gentle slopes. Tuber magnatum develops mycorrhiza with poplars, willows, hazel, oak and lime trees. Fruiting bodies of T. magnatum achieve maturity from September to December.
Truffles grow in mycorrhiza with higher plants and their distribution is determined by the appearance of these species. Indicators of the terrain on which truffles grow are: Staphylea pinnata, Crategus oxyacantha, Cornus mas, Prunus mahaleb, Phillyrea sp., Cotinus coggygria, Ostrya carpinifolia, Colutea arborescens, Fraxinus ornus, Rhamnus cathartica, Sorbus aria, Juniperus communis, Juniperus oxycedrus.
They normally don’t appear next to Castanea sativa, Calluna vulgaris, Genista germanica, Genista tinctoria, Pteridium aquilium, Digitalis purpurea.
Truffles are, as extremely valuable species, threatened with disappearance because of changing habitat conditions and intense collection. Around the world there is a decline in productivity of natural habitats which are often associated with climate change, and land use.T. magnatum has very specific habitat requirements, and the very habitats are often in areas of intense agriculture which affects the habitats overall quality. To what extent is this impact expressed is not known because this issue has not been studied long term.
Due to declining productivity of truffles’ natural habitats and, at the same time, significant increase in demand on world markets, a campaign of raising awareness began in Croatia, with a long term goals of sustainable increasing of productivity within natural habitats and at the same time, preservation of those natural habitats in order to maintain and increase the production.
Truffles industry today is of great importance at the global level where truffles are recognized as extremely important product. Their collection and sale acquires direct economic benefit, and related secondary industry is an important factor in tourist and gastronomic promotion in all truffles native regions. Tuber magnatum is one of the most important commercial species of truffles. The majority of white truffles that come on the market are from Italy, and in part from Croatia, Slovenia and Serbia.
- Zgrablić, Ž., Brenko, A., Matočec, N., Kušan, I., Fornažar, A., Čulinović, J., Prekalj, G., Strategy of sustainable truffle management in Istrian region, Croatia, Istrian Region, 2014
- Gajos, M., Hilszczansja, D., Research on truffles: Scientific journals analysis, Academic Journals, Vol.8(38), 2013, p.1837-1847.