The truffle's life cycle has been a mystery since the ancient civilisations. After thousands of years of uncertainty, man finally found the right answers at the beginning of the 19th century, and during the same century, the adequate formulas were adopted for its reproduction or cultivation.

The truffle acquired a special interest as highly appreciated food product during the 18th and 19th century, after it had been carrying around a bad reputation during the Middle Ages.
During this period, and having clearly identified the origin of the truffles, the first attempts to cultivate and harvest some specimen were made.
There are countless tales of people, telling their infallible methods. Naturalists, amateurs, including nobility, using processes without any scientific basis, were striving to announce they were the first ones in obtaining this highly appreciated tuber. They all believed they had found the key to reproduce any type of truffle at will, but none of them ever succeeded to obtain results.
The true key was discovered by chance in the early 19th century, by some French farmers in the Provence area, sowing acorns to expand their holm oak plantations. These oaks were already producing truffles and, due to the newly sown acorns, this resulted years later in new trees also sporadically producing black truffle.
This astonishing fact made its finders think about the exact reproduction process, which was then carried out successfully.
Later studies, carried out in France, determined the exact origin of the truffle and its life cycle . They also provided a more in-depth knowledge of the complete production phases, going from spore germination, all the way to obtaining a fully grown truffle. This gave, during the first third of the 19th century in France, the start to the genuine scientific and botanic study of truffles.

Until today, some exact processes, like spontaneous truffle spore germination, are still unknown, but despite that, we can state that the exact reproduction phases or cycles are well known and worth commenting.

Truffles are a type of mushroom which grows and lives underground. They are actually the fruit of a plant or hyphal system (fungus type) called mycelium which lives in symbiosis with certain tree types. This convenience relationship is beneficial to both plants since the mycelium, like all mushrooms, needs to receive its chlorophyll from the plant which lives aboveground and, in return, receives an extra input of nutrients through the hyphal system, connected to its root.

During the fruiting phase, and when the truffle is ripening, it becomes independent of the mycelium and continues its development in an autonomous way, absorbing nutrients from the soil by its own means, some tiny filaments called hyphas.

When a truffle is not extracted and stays underground until it withers, it degrades, setting free a large number of spores which come out of their "bags" in which they're being stored, called ascus. Already when they're still buried, they are ready to travel underground and germinate, producing a new mycelium.

The best  and easiest way for a spore to germinate is when it's already attached to a seed, for instance an acorn. The black truffle spores are covered with points or spikes, which they use to attach themselves to tree roots or seeds, present in the soil.
When the seed germinates, it will produce a plant which, in the future, will produce truffles since, in this case, the mycelium (lower plant) development is implicit to the development of the upper plant.

The new mycelium will be attached to and grow in symbiosis with the roots of the new tree. In time, it will produce new fruits, the truffles, thus closing the life cycle.

It is known that truffles were already appreciated in ancient Egypt. The Greeks, and Romans afterwards, used them frequently and there are documents describing in detail how they were used. It was not until the 18th and 19th century they have been studied and classified by several scientists, who detailed their life cycle and differentiated the species.

Outstanding species are the Italian Piedmont white truffles or white Alba truffle (Tuber Magnatum) ), whose season goes from October to December. It is the queen of truffles, entering in symbiosis with Turkey Oak (Quercus Cerris), Pedunculate Oak (Quercus Pedunculata), Lime Tree, Poplar, Beech, Willow and Hazel. This species has its season in parallel with the burgundy truffle (Tuber Uncinatum), which is also an appreciated species. December is the start of the season of the black truffle (Tuber Melanosporum) , reaching it highest quality in February and finishes in March. The black truffle enters in symbiosis with trees of the Quercus genus. More specifically, with the holm oak (Quercus Ilex), pedunculate oak (Quercus Pedunculata), Sessile Oak (Quercus Sessiliflora), Kermes Oak (Quercus Coccifera) and Pubescent Oak (Quercus Lanucinosa). Then, we need to wait for new fresh truffle until mid or end of May, which is when the summer truffle (Tuber Aestivum) appears, which can then be enjoyed until well into the month of August.

As such, throughout the year, nature gives us the opportunity to savour four different types of quality truffle, which are within our reach. It's just a matter of taste or personal preference.

The important thing for the consumer is to know that each truffle variety is very different from the others, just like any other fruit which is born and grown in different seasons. For this reasons, its culinary features also adapt to the tastes of each season. Strength, intensity, aroma and savour in autumn and winter. Delicacy and freshness in spring and summer.

From the gastronomic point of view, few products stand out as strongly for their organoleptic properties, among which the perfume and flavour, enhancing the taste of food and taking the culinary art to its highest and most exclusive level.