The Italian white truffle, in England?
The beginning of October saw an exciting e-mail arrive at Mycorrhizal Systems HQ. We received a claim that the most expensive white truffle species, Tuber magnatum, had been found by a gardener in Southern England. Descriptions in the e-mail of the truffle and how/where it was found seemed to substantiate the claim. However, after a request for a sample for DNA testing the ‘truffle finder’ disappeared. Did he really find white truffles and disappear to sell his hoard? Or did the alleged find turn out to be something else and the embarrassment prevent further contact? Finding T.magnatum in the UK would be very exciting indeed. This species has never been found in England before, but if it were it could command prices of EUR3,000-5,000/Kg.
So let’s look at the facts, could T.magnatum feasibly grow in the English climate?
The white truffle can mainly be found in Italy, Croatia and also in one small area of Switzerland, where average winter temperatures for the coldest month range from two to five degrees Celsius, which overlaps very nicely with several areas in England. However, the mean daily temperature in the warmest month is a good four to six degrees warmer than even southern England and the sunshine hours are significantly longer.
So could the white truffle be found in England? On the back of the climate data, it looks doubtful. However, maybe, just maybe, there could be a few small microclimates where it could be feasible. We don’t believe T.magnatum is going to be found in England anytime soon, but there’s always a glimmer of possibility.