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Group of Fungi: Slime Molds
Latin Name: Stemonitis axifera (Bull.) T. Macbr.
Common Name: None
Description: Slender, cylindrical structure, 1/4–5/8 in (0.5–1.5 cm) tall and up to 1/32 in (0.1 cm) wide, tufted, usually occurring in small clusters, bright rusty brown; stalk black, shining, 1/8–1/4 (0.3–0.5 cm) long; spore-bearing surface lacking; spores bright reddish brown in mass.
Biological Role: The vegetative stage (called a plasmodium) in the life cycle of this organism feeds upon the bacteria associated with decaying plant material.
Habitat: On decaying wood or bark in broadleaf or conifer forests.
Geographical Distribution: Found throughout the world.
Comments: The slime molds are not true fungi but are found in many of the same situations. The fruiting bodies of this species and Stemonitis fusca are very similar in overall structure but differ in color, with those of Stemonitis axifera a bright rusty brown. If one uses a hand lens to examine an individual fruiting body in which most of the spores have been lost, it is possible to detect a small-meshed net that covers the entire outer surface.