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(trŭf`əl) [Fr.], subterranean edible fungus that forms a mutually beneficial (symbiotic) relationship with the roots of certain trees and plants. The part of the fungus used as food is the ascoma, the fruiting body of the fungus. The best-known truffles are the black, or Périgord Tuber melanosporum, and the white, T. magnatum, both found chiefly in W Europe. Their flavor is piquant and aromatic, and they have been esteemed as a delicacy from ancient times; recipes for their use are found in Greek and Roman writings.

The black truffles found in the forests of Périgord, France, have been highly regarded since the 15th cent., and their collection and cultivation is an important industry. Traditionally hunted with pigs, they are now mainly found by dogs, which can be trained to "point" for truffles and have the distinct advantage of not being truffle eaters. Black truffle cultivation has been somewhat successful since the late 20th cent.; it requires the inoculation of the roots of a seedling of its host plants, oak, hazel, and other deciduous trees, with fungal spores. Important black truffle producers are Spain, Italy, France, and Australia; all the black truffles from the last are farmed. The prized white truffle, harvested primarily in central and N Italy as well as in parts of S France, Croatia, and Slovenia, is more expensive and has not been successfully cultivated.

Besides the well-known white and black truffles, there are hundreds of other species, all mycorrhizae, fungi in a symbiotic relationship with plant roots. The summer, or burgundy, truffle, T. aestivum, a black truffle widely found in Europe, is most often associated with beech trees and is also prized for culinary use. T. indicum, a black truffle exported from China, where it grows on pine and chestnut roots, is regarded as inferior to the Périgord and summer truffles. The tasty Oregon white truffle, T. oregonense, grows on the roots of the Douglas fir tree, which is dependent upon the fungus for its mineral nutrition. Truffles are widespread in distribution and are found in a wide variety of habitats.

The desert truffles of Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East (genera Terfezia and Tirmania) are typically found in arid and semiarid regions. They similarly grow underground. In the Mediterranean region, they are often found near Helianthemum species and other plants in the rock rose (Cistaceae) family, with which they grow symbiotically. Some desert truffle species are also prized as a delicacies and are collected in the wild. Their flavor and fragrance is generally less intense than European truffles.

Truffles and desert truffles are classified in the division Ascomycota, class Pezizomycetes, order Pezizales, families Tuberaceae and Terfeziaceae, respectively.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



an ascomycetous. fungus with a fleshy, tuberous subterranean fruiting body. Most truffles belong to the order Tu-berales. They grow in forests as saprophytes or form mycorrhizae with tree roots. Some of the fruiting bodies resemble marble in cross section.

There are a few edible species of truffles. The most valuable is the very aromatic Tuber brumale, which is black and warty on the outside and dark gray or reddish black with light veining on the inside. Tuber brumale grows in oak and beech groves, mainly in southern France and northern Italy, where it has great commercial value. The species Choiromyces meandriformis, whose light-fleshed fruiting body resembles a potato in form and size, grows in the forests of Western Europe, the western USSR, and Moscow Oblast. Truffles of the genus Terfezia, which belong to the order Plectascales, include a number of edible species but are of less value than Tuber brumale. They grow in Southern Europe, North Africa, and Southwest Asia, as well as in the Azerbaijan and Turkmen SSR’s of the USSR.

Inedible basidial fungi of the genus Scleroderma of the order Gastromycetes, whose fruiting bodies are in the form of rounded or elongated yellow tubers 3–10 cm long, are sometimes erroneously called truffles. The fungi are found in forests and parks. Their fruiting bodies have an unpleasant odor and initially are solid, with a black interior and light veining; the interior later disintegrates.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


The edible underground fruiting body of various European fungi in the family Tuberaceae, especially the genus Tuber.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


indicates the unexpected. [Flower Symbolism: Flora Symbolica, 178]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


any of various edible saprotrophic ascomycetous subterranean fungi of the European genus Tuber. They have a tuberous appearance and are regarded as a delicacy
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
The truffles came "in response to increased consumer demand for premium chocolates which are special enough to give" Mars said.
Jacobs follows the truffle from spore to plate, a journey "fraught with so much biological uncertainty, human competition, and logistical headaches that a single shaving could be understood as a testament to the wonder of human civilization." His in-depth research not only focuses on the present day but also covers how truffle farming came to be so secretive, exclusive and competitive.
'There is nothing more satisfying than to use your bare hands to dig into the sand and extract these delicious truffles,' says Mohammed.
The love of the French for black truffles is forcing market competition to produce various unfamiliar products
Commenting on how the new species was found, Fu said it began with a campaign by some enthusiastic students to discover Taiwan's native white truffles.
( Champagne White Chocolate Truffles: For a truly impressive treat, try this recipe featuring white chocolate, champagne, and if you're feeling particularly creative, edible gold leaf.
Piedmont is waiting to be explored, each of the villages hold a strong draw with this sumptuous spread of local produce and then there are truffles - black and white and others in between.
Hunting season ended a month before, but you still see, driving through the Asti countryside, men leading dogs across the terrain, likely looking for leftover truffles hiding near the roots of poplar, linden and oak trees.
CARLUCCIO'S WHITE CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES, PS12.95 Bring an international flavour to your sweet treats with this jar of white chocolate and hazelnut truffles from the restaurant chain's deli shops.
As far as I know, truffles have not yet been found in the Philippines.
"Since we have had Truffles they have gotten more sociable as at first they were awful.
It was also made clear to me that the truffle hound is key to any successful hunt, even more important than its partner in crime, the trifulau, the handler and usually the owner of the dog.