Making connections

I was delighted to observe this week  that one of my hazel (Corylus avellana) trees, a Kentish Cob, has found a friend:

Hazel and friend

There on the right of the main stem you can see the fruiting body of a fungus. I am really hoping that this indicates that there is now a beneficial relationship between the two and that the fungus has formed a connection with the roots of the hazel. Such fungi are known as mycorrhizae (the singular is mycorrhiza) and are a key component of natural woodland ecosystems – they are associated with the enhanced uptake of water and nutrients, resulting in healthier plants that can survive more harsh conditions than those without the association. The fungi benefit too – receiving carbohydrates from the plant.

As you can see, this particular hazel is in a pot, but it is destined for the ground very soon. It arrived last winter when the ground was frozen and so it could not be planted immediately so I put it in a large pot with wool compost. Then  I entirely forgot to plant it out in the spring. Anyway, it seems to be happy and healthy and I hope that it and its companion will enjoy their new home. Fingers crossed that this means an abundance of hazel nuts in the future.

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