Several species of truffle grow wild in Colorado and can be found embedded at the base of trees in ponderosa pine forests. Though these truffles provide an important food source for deer and squirrels, they are not the varieties that are prized by gourmet kitchens.
Growing Preferences of Gourmet Truffles
Black truffles and white truffles, the two most popular edible varieties, were originally found only in select locations of France and Italy. These climates, with dry summers and cool winters, do not match most habitats in Colorado. Truffles commonly choose oak, beech and hazel trees for their hosts, which are not established species of Colorado's pine forests.
In recent years, as European populations of wild truffles continue to diminish, researchers have worked to create truffle plantations. So far, successful plantations of prized Perigord truffles have been established in Tennessee. Other varieties of truffles are being tested in America's Midwest, while two varieties of milder truffles grow successfully in the southern states.
The hypogenous fungi that do grow in the Rocky Mountains play a key role in the food chain. These truffles provide nutriment to both the host plant and the tree squirrels, ground squirrels, deer, elk and other forest animals that eat them. In turn, the truffle spore is spread to other trees after it is eaten.