Granulated wood ash has been proposed as a slow release fertiliser suitable for forest soils. In this study ectomycorrhizal colonisation of roots and ash granules was studied in a 40-year-old spruce forest treated with 0, 3 or 6 t ha(-1) granulated wood ash. We used PCR-RFLP methods for ITS-typing and identification of ectomycorrhizal fungi. In total 20 different ITS-types were recognised on roots in the organic soil horizon. Five of these were identified to species and two to genus. Six species, Tylospora fibrillosa Donk, Cortinarius sp. 3, Piloderma sp. 1, and three unidentified ITS-types (Ve-95-1, To-95-3 and Ve-95-9) each occurred on over 5% of the total root tips analysed. Together these comprised 557c of the ectomycorrhizal community on the screened roots. Ash granules collected from the fertilised plots were normally colonised by fungal mycelia. PCR-RFLP analysis of these mycelia revealed the presence of four ITS-types. Three of these (Piloderma sp. 1, Ha-96-3 and Tor-97-1) were also present on the mycorrhizal roots. Piloderma sp. I was the most abundant species colonising roots. A possible role of ectomycorrhizal mycelia in the direct mobilisation of nutrients from ash granules is discussed. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.