John Parker, Technical Director
One of the topics that is always of most interest to the arboricultural community is fungi, and especially the relationship between fungi and trees.
2021 sees the publication of two new books from the Arboricultural Association, books which will surely prove to be two of the definitive texts on the subject for years to come. David Humphries and Christopher Wright have created the informative and beautiful Fungi on Trees: A Photographic Guide, covering 100 species of perennial and annual fungi, illustrated by 900 colour photographs. And Professor Lynne Boddy has written Fungi and Trees: Their Complex Relationships, an incredible work which takes its readers on a journey through every aspect of the interaction between fungi and trees over 10 illuminating chapters.
The Fungi Symposium on 31 March is a celebration of, and introduction to, these new books. Organised by the Arboricultural Association and Lynne Boddy, this one-day online event will feature a selection of international experts who have each been invited to deliver a presentation about one of the chapters of Fungi and Trees: Their Complex Relationships. Ten presentations from 11 speakers will include an opening talk from David Humphries and Christopher Wright about fungal fruit bodies, using their own book as a guide.
On the pages that follow, you can find some detailed information about the programme, the speakers and the topics about which they will be presenting. Audience members will have the opportunity to participate in the event through the Q&A function and by engaging with the speakers and their fellow delegates using the chat function.
There will be three sessions in the Fungi Symposium – morning (09:00–12:00), afternoon (13:00–15:00) and evening (18:00–20:00). The evening session will be a typical Wednesday Webinar, free for anyone to attend who would like to do so. Tickets for covering both morning and afternoon sessions are £25 for AA members and £50 for non-members.
Everyone who purchases a ticket to the event will have exclusive access to the recorded presentations for a six-month period, after which the recordings will become a member-only benefit. And as if you needed any further incentive, all ticket holders will be entered into a prize draw, to be made during the evening session, and the lucky winner will be sent a signed copy of both fungi books. This represents great value for what will be an amazing and unique live experience over eight hours of CPD.
I am sure that everyone reading this would agree that trees are wonderful, inspiring delight, enhancing our lives, improving our environment. They power many of the ecosystems of our planet, form habitat for many organisms, remove atmospheric pollutants and prevent soil pollutants from reaching watercourses, reduce soil erosion, cool streets and cities, and have huge advantageous psychological effects, to name but a few of their benefits. Of course, they do not, indeed cannot, do this alone.
Every tree on the planet partners with fungi, most obviously as mycorrhizal associations with their roots, but also cryptically with endophytes (which literally means within a plant) in their leaves, stems and roots. Trees are also indirectly dependent on fungi, as the main decomposers and recyclers of dead plant tissues – especially those that contain lignin – ultimately making nutrients available again for continued plant growth. On the other hand, some fungi are pathogens of trees.
Writing Fungi and Trees: Their Complex Relationships was a huge pleasure, and I hope that people find it an enjoyable and illuminating read. I obviously couldn’t always go into the detail that I would have liked, and so I thought that a symposium which highlights specific novel aspects, whilst placing these in a more general context, would be exciting. The packed programme brings together experts from the USA, Fennoscandia and more locally. I am very much looking forward to hearing these many and varied contributions, and to listening to the dynamic discussions that these events always yield.