Monday, 23 November 2015

Hunting for treasure we found dog vomit!

I took Bug Mad Girl up to the hill fort on Pulpit Hill yesterday to see the huge Beech tree that fell down in last weeks storms. She wanted to have a hunt through the roots and disturbed soil to see if she could find any fossils or 'treasure'.

To be honest it was all a bit muddy to find much, but she had a good time looking and was ably assisted by the dog. The roots are so shallow that they barely look like they should be able to hold a huge beech tree up.

They didn't find any fossils, so moved onto a bit of tree climbing (considerably easier with the tree on its side!) and the dog enjoyed racing around with sticks.


We found some beautiful turkeytail nearby. It's a very common bracket fungus, but the amazing range of colours on it never ceases to amaze me.


There was also a wavy bracket fungus, which has the rather unglamorous name of hairy curtain crust. I think it looks quite pretty and probably deserves a slightly nicer name than that!

On the way back down the hill we spotted our treasure in the grass next to the path. This strange white fuzz is actually a slime mould called Mucilago Crustacea, which has the lovely common name of Dog Vomit Slime Mould. It's usually found in grass, unlike Fuligo Septica (also with the same common name) which is usually found on wood or mulch.

Dog vomit slime mould
It starts out as yellow scrambled egg (when it actually looks a bit more like dog vomit) and within 24 hours turns white and flaky, eventually revealing the black spore mass. The first one we spotted was definitely in the white fuzzy stage, which fell off like snow when we gave it a gentle shake. Nearby we found some that was slightly more mature and had turned black.
The more mature slime mould had lost it's white fuzz
Slime moulds aren't fungi. They belong to a group of single cell organisms that can live independently, but can also group together when food (bacteria, yeast and other microorganisms) become scarce, to form multicellular structures. They can even move en masse in search of food. Eventually this cluster of cells transforms into the spore-bearing fruiting body.

9 comments:

  1. I thought dog vomit slime mould was yellow?

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  2. It starts out yellow, then turns white and fuzzy. The fuzz gets knocked/blown off and it ends up black. I think the yellow stage is most like vomit!

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  3. Slime moulds seem intriguing organisms - here is a Tapioca one I've been watching change over the weeks https://www.flickr.com/photos/scroate/22257378799

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    1. Fascinating, aren't they. Nice pic - you can really see the structure of it. Looks a bit like cauliflower!

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  4. Brilliant - I've also been getting into fungi and slime moulds recently as well - when I first saw that there was there a 'Dog Vomit Slime Mould' I thought I was made up!

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    1. Me too! Some of the slime moulds are really very pretty. It's a shame about their name - slime and mould aren't exactly two of the most glamorous words in the English language. Add in a bit of dog vomit and it really makes it hard to love!

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    2. Yes, there are some pretty odd names for fungi - 'Mousepee Pinkgill' just about take the biscuit for me! There's also the 'Hairy nuts disco'!
      Blog: http://robymilling.blogspot.com/

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  5. Thanks Bug Mad Girl for this post. I think I spotted this when I was clearing old thistles and grass ariound my recently planted hedge. It was sort of clinging on to dead thistle stems. Great to know what it is, I will tell my Bug Mad Boy!

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    1. That's great - I'm sure he'll love the name!

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