Scrambled eggs anyone?

IMG_5946 (Edited)

It probably prefers the dignity of its Latin name Fuligo septica because its common names in English are scrambled-egg slime (not great) and dog vomit slime mould (even worse). Wikipedia tells me that medieval Scandinavians believed it was used by witches to spoil their neighbors’ milk, hence (for instance) the Finish name paranvoi, meaning ‘butter of the familiar spirit’. Sounds more like a posh Crufts dog name than a slime mould to me but maybe it loses something in the translation.

Fuligo is our second slime mould discovery in the wood in May and what a spectacular thing it is. Several inches long and it really is that bright sulphur yellow colour. It’s on a rotting log here but it sometimes turns up in bark mulch and disconcerts urban gardeners.

As attentive readers know from a previous post, slime moulds are not fungi but ‘amoebae on steroids’. The orange-coloured Lycogala terrestre we found last week is a cellular slime mould which spends most of its time as single-celled organisms which congregate and start moving as a single body when food is in short supply. Our yellow friend is only a distant relative. It’s a plasmodial slime mould which comprises a single membrane without walls, effectively one large cell containing thousands of individual nuclei. No privacy at all.

It normally moves around looking for food in damp, shady areas with ‘abundant organic matter’ but sometimes moves to bright areas to fruit and we seem to have caught it just as it developed into its thick, spore-bearing mass called an aethalium. This video by Daniel Brunner captures the whole process and is essential viewing for Fuligo fans.

There are several varieties of Fuligo septica, up to six it seems. var Candida is creamy for instance according to the very authoritative Mushroom Observer. white I’m not clear what the position is in the UK though I’ve read here that there are two (yellow) varieties of this species: var. septica (or “flowers of tan”), found from south-east England to as far north as Yorkshire, and var. “flava”, found further north.

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