• lesleychristinehodgson

Up close and personal with slime.

Many years ago, while hiking in Hamsterley Forest, I used to see strange pink and orange blobs on the dead conifer stumps, and wonder what they were. I suppose I assumed they were some sort of fungus, not knowing any better, but they were softer than most fungi and the colours were surprising. Then a friend bought me a book as a present, and it had two whole pages devoted to - slime moulds! Not fungi, as I had first thought, but a separate group of organisms known as the Myxomycetes, although originally they were classified as fungi, I believe.

Now I knew what those pinky orange blobs were - Wolf's Milk! This is quite large as slime moulds go, many are very much smaller, almost beyond my camera's capability to focus on, and certainly beyond the scope of my eyes. So please excuse any blurred images.

Wolf's Milk is fairly common, indeed I have found it in my own garden, on rotten logs. F. septica is also common, and has the delightful English name of Dog's Vomit, but you can see why! It is found on rotten wood also.

This is one I was very excited to find, especially as it was also in my garden. I had left a couple of Silver Birch logs to rot down, then one day, there it was, tiny, but just visible, and I dashed inside for my camera. After a day it turned black then disappeared - slime moulds are rather short-lived!

This is one we found high on the hills above Weardale, in a clearing inside a conifer plantation, it was identified for me by an expert as I had no idea what it was. It was slowly spreading over the grass, searching for food no doubt. The tiny yellow blobs are the fruiting bodies containing the spores.

We discovered this one last week, in Thornley Wood, the Heart of Durham site near Tow Law which used to be a conifer plantation, and now has a huge amount of dead wood which is producing some interesting species. When I went back two days later, it had gone....

This rather delicate one was discovered in the Staward Gorge, and I have never seen it since. I think that slug was in for a feast, when slime appears in my garden, the slugs appear faster than I can run indoors for the camera!

This is one from Black Plantation, and again is extremely small. It was growing below the bark of a rotten silver birch log.

This one was photographed last week, on a mild day in deciduous woodland near Tow Law, but I have also seen it on conifer wood. If it had been colder, I might have though it was frost on the moss. I see I have missed the name off, it is Ceratiomyxa fruticulosa, and is fairly common, although very tiny.

This one was on a downed beech on the Weardale Way, and is one I never dreamed I would see, it looked so exotic when I saw it posted from around the world on Facebook. Then I spotted a patch of grey mould on the trunk, and a closer look with my loupe revealed this amazing specimen. I will admit to being a tad excited!! I hope you have enjoyed this short journey through slime, many more are available to be discovered, and now is a good time to spot them. But take an eyeglass, you will need it! ID's are right to the best of my knowledge, but I can not be 100%, so apologies if I have any wrong.

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