Wednesday, 19 December 2007

#41 More slime moulds

Late spring and early summer rain has seen some fascinating slime moulds fruiting in the Hunter Valley. Here I will feature three that I've found recently. As I lack expertise, I will not attempt to identify them, but where possible I will give a similar species that interested readers might like to compare them with.

Bunches of tiny white tubes on a fallen twig
in Barrington Tops National Park

Slime moulds have an interesting life cycle and habits. I have provided brief and easy-to-read details of these strange life forms in my nature blog entry #22.

Fine white tubes

This slime mould resembles Ceratiomyxa fruticulosa, with the common name of Coral Slime. I found these clusters of tiny, white hollow tubes in mid November on a dead twig following heavy rain on the rainforest floor of the southern section of Barrington Tops National Park on the eastern fringe of the Hunter Valley.

The delicate 'tentacles' were up to about 5mm in length and felt soft and flexible to touch. Although small, the clumps of brilliant white tubes made a beautiful and unusual sight.

A close-up of the clusters of white tubes

Apricot pillows

This slime mould resembles Lycogola epidendrum, common names Wolf's Milk Slime or Toothpaste Slime Mould.

Massess of these spongy apricot to pink cushion-like structures up to 10mm diameter were spread over an area of about half a square metre on wood-chip mulch at the Hunter Region Botanic Gardens following rain in mid November 2007. A few rows of similar slime moulds also grew on timber garden edging.

They were soft and slightly velvety to touch and had no discernible odour. Individual fruiting bodies were at different stages of their life cycle, so it was interesting to see the variation. I peirced some so as to investigate the interior, and a pale-orange substance oozed out that was of thick but 'runny' consistency, resembling busted blisters

There were also remains of a dark-brown shell-like bases of aged specimens. This slime mould was a particularly exciting find.

Spongy light-orange pillow-like fruiting bodies

Thick orange liquid oozes from pierced fruiting bodies

Slime mould fruiting bodies turn grey with age and split to ooze a substance that could be described as looking like vomit

Shell or bowl-shaped black or dark-brown bases remain

White baubles

These shiny white baubles were a beaut find in the New England National Park in May of 2007. Although not in the Hunter Valley, the habitat was very like some of the alpine areas of Barrington Tops.

Growing on dead wood and only about 1mm diameter, these pretty slime mould fruiting bodies were a lucky find.

The creeping stage is shown on the top right

A mass of unjoined white slime mould baubles

Slime moulds are usually, but not always, small and often insignificant, but I would class them as extremely fascinating and odd life forms - well worth a close inspection. You're likely to find them following rain. Sometimes they will pop up in your garden, but as far as I am aware, they will do your garden or pets no harm.


Lola said...

A fascinating subject indeed of what many of us fail to see. I have to admit to not having seen those white tubes, nor ever attempting to pierce any fruiting bodies, so there was much of interest for me in this blog entry.
Another wonderful credit to your observation powers.
Well done Gaye.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Gaye

I love the huge variety of Slime Moulds.

Nice post. You covered them extremely well before.



David said...

Hi Gaye,

The slime mould baubles came out a treat.
Lovely colour and depth.



Gaye from the Hunter said...

hello Lola, Denis and David,

you lot are on the ball finding my post soon after I have entered it. Thank you for your interest.

When I was at the Botanic Gardens I found the pink-pillow slime mould at the beginning of my walk. I then went for a lengthy loop walk and when nearly back to the starting point, I had a chat to a volunteer worker who found me spread out on the ground photographing a fungus. I enthusiastically described the slime mould that I had photographed behind the office and I got the impression that he felt quite squeemish at my description.

.....chuckle chuckle. My sense of beauty is quite possibly a bit out of the ordinary.

I have found great blobs of slime mould in my garden over the past few days. With the regular inspections I make of my garden, I was able to observe it in its creeping stage as well as spore-producing stage - the beginnings of another slime mould blog :)