Truffles are a relatively rare species of an underground mushroom that grows in the roots of some trees or bushes. Truffle is the generic name of all the underground fleshy mushrooms-fungi belonging to the family Tuberaceae and to the genera Tuber and Terfezia. Their size is appoximately 2-7cm, their colour varies from greyblack to whiteochre and they grow underground in a depth of 6-15 cm. Like all fungi they cannot compose the necessary substances to survive. In order to compensate this impossibility, they attach to some plants (trees or bushes), creating a relationship called “mycorrhizal symbiosis”, from which beneficiate both parties. The symbiosis takes place in ligneous and forage plants and mainly in some forest species like hornbeams, hazels, pines, poplars, oaks, willows and limetrees.
Truffle is literally called “fruit-bearing fertile body” and attaches to the plant with a sprouting composition-structure called “mycelium”. The spawn textures of these fungi envelop the thin root hairs of the plants and suck mainly carbohydrates while the plant roots beneficiate, increasing thus their capability of absorbing from the soil water, nitrogenous substances and other elements like potassium, phosphate, iron and trace elements. It is calculated that up to 100 meters of mycelium textures are contained in a small spoon of soil in a healthy forest. Truffle is formed underground on the root of the symbiotic plant. It has a round, irregular form, and its size varies between the size of a pea and that of an orange. Exteriorly it is covered by a peel called “peridium” and the inner part called “flesh of the fruit or clod” contains millions of seeds that execute the reproductory function. Each genus of truffle contains seeds of different colours and sizes. Through a microscopic study, the classification of the genera is relatively easy. After the spouting of the seed, the “mycelium” is created, connecting the plant to the fungus, and “contaminating” the new roots lying in ground. During the maturity period, each genus of truffle emits its own smell. Its gastronomical and nutritive merits make this fungus as one of the most exquisite dishes worldwide. It is also believed that it has healing properties against muscular pains and arthritis and that it lowers the cholesterol levels. But, most of all, it is considered to have powerful aphrodisial properties.