What You Should Know
The slime molds are not true fungi but are found in many of the same situations. Lycogala epidendrum is one of the most widely distributed and well-known slime molds. The fruiting bodies resemble puffballs but are much smaller. If an immature fruiting body is broken open, the contents ooze out as a pink slimy substance that has the consistency of toothpaste.
When not fruiting, single-celled individuals move about as very small, red amoeba-like organisms called plasmodia, masses of protoplasm that engulf bacteria, fungal and plant spores, protozoa, and particles of non-living organic matter through phagocytosis.
Other names: Wolf's Milk, Froening's Slime.
Lycogala epidendrum Life Cycle
During the plasmodial stage, individuals have reddish color but these are rarely seen. When conditions change, the individuals aggregate using chemical signaling to form an aethalium or fruiting body. These appear as small cushion-like blobs measuring about 3–15 millimeters (0.12–0.59 in) in diameter.
Color is quite variable, ranging from pinkish grey to yellowish-brown or greenish-black, with mature individuals tending towards the darker end. They may be either round or somewhat compressed with a warted or rough texture.
While immature they are filled with a pink, paste-like fluid. With maturity, the fluid becomes a powdery mass of minute grey spores. The spores measure 6 to 7.5 µm and are round in shape with a netted texture and appearing ochre to lavender in color.
The pseudocapillaria, sterile elements in the spore mass, are long, flattened, branching tubes with transverse wrinkles and folds.
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