Lycogala epidendrum

Lycogala epidendrum
Image Courtesy of Peter Katsaros
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Group of Fungi: Slime Molds

Family: Tubiferaceae

Latin Name: Lycogala epidendrum (J. C. Buxb. ex L.) Fr.

Common Name: Wolf's-milk Slime Mold

Description: Globose to slightly flattened or somewhat angular (from several occurring together) structure, 1/8–5/8 in (0.3–1.5 cm) wide and high, pinkish gray to yellow-brown or almost black, surface roughened or with scattered warts, often developing an opening at the top; spores at first pink in mass but changing to pale ochraceous or pallid.

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 (less commonly) bark in broadleaf or conifer forests; solitary or occurring in small or large groups.

Geographical Distribution: Found throughout the world.

Comments: 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.

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