Slime: Check. Mold: Check. Slime Mold: Not So Check. Some Wet Colorado Crannies in a Dry Late August, Part I

by Jennifer Frazer on September 2, 2009

Not what you're thinking, I swear . . .

Not what you're thinking, I swear . . . Photo courtesy Mary Jane Howell.

Well, the big slime hunters (slime mold expert Mary Jane Howell and I) have returned from our foray but, alas! without many slime molds. Nonetheless it was a day well spent, full of fluttering green aspen, mossy corners, and bubbling pools. We crawled our way into the moistest, juiciest spots we could find, but unfortunately, in August in Colorado in a year without a proper monsoon (as our traditional early August rains are known), it’s crispy out there. The bogs are boggy and buggy, but the logs are dry on top and the slime spores have flown.

What you see in the picture above is not a slime mold. It is a jelly fungus, called so because of its appearance and slick, rubbery texture. If you ever see one of these, feel free to reach down and pet it — they feel delightful and do not bite or sting. Jelly fungi are basidiomycetes like mushrooms. That means they make their spores on the outside of special reproductive cells called basidia (singular: basidium).

Then there was this:


A pincushion? A voodoo mushroom? A balding mushroom that decided to get "plugs"? Photo courtesy Mary Jane Howell.

Super cool! This is an LBM (little brown mushroom) of some sort that seems to be getting parasitized by a zygomycete (like Rhizopus stolonifer, the common bread mold). Zygomycetes in the order Mucorales have a characteristic asexual spore structure (a sporangium) that often looks like a black ball at the end of a long filament, as you see here. There were several mushrooms in the group that had fallen prey, and a few that so far had escaped.

Up next time: More slimy, rusty, and snaily goodness from the woods of Colorado.

{ 1 trackback }

sciencegeekgirl » Gleanings from the blogosphere
October 19, 2009 at 10:39 pm

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Captain Skellett September 3, 2009 at 9:13 pm

Definately a voodoo mushroom. Or perhaps it’s just getting fancy for the races!

Daniel Poth September 4, 2009 at 8:23 am

I know that it’s just the boy in me, but I totally want to touch that jelly fungus…. and then poke it with a stick.

Psi Wavefunction September 7, 2009 at 12:34 am

How cute! ^.^ (fungi parasitising fungi is fun… actually, parasites are fascinating, especially the non-conventional stuff, ie the other 99% of their diversity…)

I heard jelly fungi may tend to be edible… (disclaimer: trust at own risk!)

Got a slime mould contribution this morning too… need to upload images and ID the sucker. Actually, maybe I’ll just get you to ID it =P

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