British Summer Truffles

In the UK, truffles were relatively unknown amongst the public before the 18th century but as history recalls they have had extensive use ever since. It started in 1728, as the excitement abroad mounted, the head of Botany at Cambridge University went in search of his own truffles and recorded finds of various species from Surrey, Middlesex, Kent, Essex, Herefordshire and Northamptonshire .Further records show that truffle hunting was practiced here in the UK over the last two centuries and it carried a royal warrant for a family business in Wiltshire up until the 1930’s, run by a man called Alfred Collins, one of the last truffle hunters in the UK since foraging died out before the second world warAlfred Collins worked in the Winterslow area of Wiltshire and the Savernake Forest, which has a long history of truffle presence and then continued to successfully hunt truffles across Great Britain, covering over eight counties and on a good day foraging he often returned with 25 lbs of truffle.

Truffles have been recorded in Patching Wood near Clapham in West Sussex an area that was famously rumored for truffles and a mysterious local woman who would successfully hunt them in secret. Further historical evidence is within the truffle archive at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew with records of truffle finds in Brighton, Goring and Folkington, near Polegate.

It has taken a period of nearly eighty years for the subject of truffles to have arisen again in the UK; however they have been recently documented in press publications and on the television, highlighting their existence, new finds and cultivation potential.

Tuber aestivum are native truffles found in the UK that are cultivated commercially abroad to supply the demand for a desirable luxury,  providing high class restaurants with quality produce equivalent to caviar or fois gras. This truffle is found growing naturally in several areas of the UK, if it was possible to organize its sustainable cultivation and collection it would contribute to prosperous economic growth for local areas and supply the increasing demand. Although Tuber aestivum is considered inferior in quality and value compared to Tuber melanosporum and Tuber magnatum it isstill recognised for its gastronomical value and cultivation potential.

Truffle species found naturally in the UK.    

Tuber aestivum                                                      

Tuber borchii                                                       

Tuber brumale                                                     

Tuber macrosporum

Tuber maculatum

Tuber rufum

Tuber excavatum

Tuber mesentericum 

Choiromyces meandriformis

Aestivum smells much milder and more delicate than the french Tuber  melanosporum or the Italian Tuber magnatum. Tuber mesentericum smells strong and is considered a good truffle to eat in Italy although it is preferred cooked as it can be overwhelmingly powerful similar to carbolic soap. It is essential not to eat any truffles without a professional diagnosis as some can cause quite unpleasant tummy complaints if incorrectly identified and eaten. Tuber borchi is also considered a good edible and Tuber brumale is found here in winter also considered edible but tastes of tar. Tuber macrosporum is considered to have a very good flavor too, choice!

It is vital to understand the life cycle of Tuber aestivum and its relationship with trees, its necessary to consider that they are hypogenous ascomeceytes fungi that live within a specific community, a fundamental niche compromising of ectomycorhizzal symbiotic relationships with trees and shrubs, this is a mutualistic relationship. It is an obligate relationship for the truffle as it cannot exist without the host tree and generally a facultative relationship for the tree, except for oak and beech that do require some species of mycorhizzal presence to exit; this association increases the trees capability to absorb water. fixed nitrates, mineral irons, particularly phosphorous and potassium and in return the tubers receive carbohydrates , in the form of sugars and starches which they need to grow as they cannot photosynthesize. Where trees are present within soils of low nutrient content this association allows the trees to be in a competitive position.

Host trees for Tuber aestivum

Common name                                            Latin name

Hazel                                                           Corylus avellana

English oak                                                 Quercus robur

Holly oak                                                     Quercus ilex

Hornbeam                                                    Carpinus betulus

Beech                                                          Fagus sylvatica

Birch                                                            Betula

Poplars                                                        Poplus sp

Fir                                                                Abies

Spruces                                                        Picea

Pines                                                            Pinus

Cedars                                                          Cedrus

Lime trees                                                     Tilia


Tuber aestivum will tolerate a greater variety of soils, preferring free draining soils but ranging from chalk or limestone calcareous, rendzina types or heavy clay base types to light sandy or loamy textures .It is able to grow in rich soils, however calcium is necessary. Hence the South Downs provide a limited but perfect environment for this wonderful truffle of our own, where woodlands remain it is still possible to find these black diamonds.


Tuber aestivum requires an oceanic, semi continental or continental climate with enough rain in summer and not too much low temperature in autumn because of this it has a large distribution over Europe. It is native in 26 out of 27 European countries and it is thought to have a broad tolerance to the heat, cold and water also more resistant to short spells of temperatures below freezing. Altitude seems to play a role in their presence and they are generally found in higher grounds ranging from 100 - 1000 ft above sea level. All personal finds have been at approximately 200ft and on ley lines, don't know what to think about that but certainly interesting ! I will have to investigate further and maybe get the dowsing rods out!

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Truffle&MushroomHunter 2016-09-05 08:13
Hi, you will have to e mail them to me
Lionel Franklin 2016-09-04 17:14
How do I post photos on your site?
I'm using a smartphone
Truffle&MushroomHunter 2016-09-04 16:46
I need photos :-)
Lionel Franklin 2016-08-08 17:47
I have used truffle oil on a tennis ball to train my dog. I then purchased a small jar of truffles from waitrose for about 7 pounds and buried slices around a local wood. She found every slice and ate them. Expensive taste my dog. I have been doing this off and on for about a year but to no avail as she hasn't found anything locally. However whilst on holiday in the south of France two weeks ago, we were out walking in the woods when she suddenly dropped her ball and started sniffing the ground, you can't imagine my excitement, I then said the magic word, and she started to dig, after a short time we had an empty hole about 8 inches deep and a pile of soil and there on the top a small brown lump. On inspection it was quite soft so I broke it in half, the smell was wonderful but it was more like a little black puff ball. She then found another one a few feet away, which was a bit firmer, but again breaking up inside. I know it's not the right time of year for truffle hunting in France, but I was wondering are they older ones that are releasing spores, or are they something completely different. Your advice would be much appreciated.
Truffle&MushroomHunter 2016-02-17 16:41
What species Ruslan? Do you phyto sanitary certification for these truffles?
Ruslan 2016-02-16 00:03
HI Alex drop me an email, we can organize something in UK if you are interested.
Truffle&MushroomHunter 2016-01-10 23:08
any truffle oil will do really, Cannitruff make an oil especially for training dogs or oil from a company called they do an english summer truffle oil which is good
Martin 2016-01-10 20:32
Hi im new to this and want to train my dog to hunt for me can anyone recomend an oil i could use fot training?
Truffle&MushroomHunter 2015-06-01 16:58
e mail me Alex my details are in the contacts tab at the top of the page.
Alex 2015-05-29 17:36
Hello! I am from Romania and i hunt truffles since 2011. We have large areas of forest and in a good day i can harvest up to 60 lbs. Please excuse my english . The downside is that the prices are very low (20 pounds/kg - aestivum and about 35 pounds - tuber uncinatum) and that people harvest them the wrong way and ruin the spawn places. I have 2 dogs with a lot of field experience, a labrador retriver and a lagotto romagnolo. Was wandering if i can ask you a few questions. Have a nice day !

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