, Volume 93, Issue 3, pp 1041-1048
Date: 20 Sep 2011

Utilizing pigment-producing fungi to add commercial value to American beech (Fagus grandifolia)

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Abstract

American beech (Fagus grandifolia) is an abundant, underutilized tree in certain areas of North America, and methods to increase its market value are of considerable interest. This research utilized pigment-producing fungi to induce color in American beech to potentially establish its use as a decorative wood. Wood samples were inoculated with Trametes versicolor, Xylaria polymorpha, Inonotus hispidus, and Arthrographis cuboidea to induce fungal pigmentation. Black pigmentation (T. versicolor, X. polymorpha, I. hispidus) was sporadic, occurred primarily on the surfaces of the heartwood, but not internally. Pink pigmentation (A. cuboidea) occurred throughout all of the tested beech samples, but was difficult to see in the heartwood due to the darker color of the wood. To increase the visibility of the pink stain, beech blocks were pretreated with T. versicolor for 4 weeks before being inoculated with A. cuboidea. This method significantly increased the saturation of the pink stain on both beech heartwood and sapwood, creating coloration similar to that found on sugar maple. This value-adding process should be particularly effective for small-scale wood pigmentation, and should help establish a market for this currently underutilized wood species.