Slime mould 28/7/05 10:10am

Figure 1.


In the last week of July, 2005, I found an area in our 'lawn' at Brighton where the vegetation was being attacked by something that looked rather like yellow grains of rice. I mentioned this on the newsgroup Aus.gardens, and Greenie Le Brun suggested that it looked like the sporangia (fruiting bodies) of a Myxomycete (slime mould), possibly Leocarpus fragilis. I found the first example, shown in Fig 1, in the morning of the 28th. The following afternoon I took my wife out to show it to her, but it had almost vanished, leaving just some shrivelled remnants. Then, on the morning of the 30th, I noticed a second patch. I photographed this at 10:30, again at 12:45, and finally at 9.25am on the 31st (Figs 2-4), by which time it had contracted into egg shaped fruiting bodies, at right angles to their supports.

I also found a third patch of slime, some days old, where the slime had almost completely disappeared, but the vegetation was obviously blackened.

The first patch was very roughly 100mm in diameter, and the area covered by the image would be about 35mm wide. The second series are taken at a slightly higher resolution, and each image is about 25mm wide.

Slime mould 12:45am, 30.7.05

Fig 3.

Slime mould 10:30am, 30.7.05

Fig 2.

Slime mould 9.25am, 31.7.05

Fig 4.

In Fig 2. the slime forms a fairly even coating over the heads of moss and bits of grass. In Fig 3. It has started to shrink, and to run off, so that the objects underneath are starting to show through. This process has continued in Fig 4., so that several objects which were formerly evenly covered are now exposed, and the remaining slime has contracted into small blobs, rather like ants eggs.

Note particularly the vertical grass stem A., which is completely obscured in Fig 1, and completely free of slime in Fig 3, and the head of moss B, which is quite unrecognisable in Fig 1, but is clearly recognisable in Fig 3.

 © Roger Riordan 2004-2017