I braved the rain showers and intermittent rumbles of thunder for a wander around Cefn Onn Park, in north Cardiff, last weekend. I hadn’t been there for quite a while and, after the recent rains, I had an inkling there might be some fungi around. I was right! There were actually rather a lot of crusty, brackety, slimy, smutty and generally mushroomy things to be found. (No, I’m not going to ID them – I just enjoyed seeing some fungi again.)
Slime mould: NOUN. A simple organism that consists of an acellular mass of creeping jelly-like protoplasm containing nuclei, or a mass of amoeboid cells. When it reaches a certain size it forms a large number of spore cases. Oxford Dictionary
I’ve posted about slime moulds before but they continue to fascinate me and I continue to find more and more of them so I thought I’d share more photos.
It’s always sad to see a mighty old tree fall, no more to see its bare branches flush with green in early spring or hear the blackbird singing in the evening dusk from its high branches.
This huge old tree came down one wild and stormy night last winter and was soon sawn into manageable, though still huge logs by council staff. Fortunately, those logs were not removed, but merely hauled off the woodland path so, though the tree is dead, its wood is now home to an amazing display of fungi.
I suspect fungi may have contributed to its demise as there is an enormous amount of wood-rotting Honey fungus spouting forth around its roots. It’s a little difficult to separate out this tree and its branches from the surrounding small trees and old stumps but the whole small area is now awash with fungal growth, including Burgundydrop bonnet, Hairy curtain crust and Turkeytail, the Porcelain fungus that I blogged about recently, a species of Oysterling and another of Brittlestem, as well as at least one slime mould, Trichia varia. The poor old tree lives on by providing nutrients to all these other living organisms.
Slime moulds are the most fascinating things! The text for today’s post was written by my Glamorgan Fungi Club friend Graham Watkeys, who has very kindly allowed me to quote his words here.
‘Usually existing as separate single cells, slime moulds congregate at this time of year (nobody knows how they do this) creating a gooey super-predator consuming everything in their path.
‘The slime mould actively travels, hunting for its food of bacteria, fungi and other organic matter (nobody knows how it does this), a mass of single cells without a nervous system or any kind of brain acting like a single entity (nobody knows how it does this).
‘Out of the chaos of the multitude, order is created, simulating purpose and direction where none exists beyond the relentless need for food.
‘When the food runs out, this conglomeration decides it’s time to reproduce (nobody knows how it does this). The millions of identical cells spontaneously reorganise themselves into a wholly new configuration, creating mushroom-like structures, some become stems, some spores (nobody knows how it does this), the simple becoming complex, the uniform becoming specialised.
‘The spores are released into the wind and the slime mould becomes a disparate unicellular organism again. The world has some extraordinary inhabitants.’