Friday, April 3, 2009

Slime moulds

These spectacular examples of the slime mould Reticularia lycoperdon are currently to be seen on the trunks of an alder, in the Long Alder Wood at Durham Wildlife Trust's Low Barns Nature Reserve at Witton-le-Wear. These are the most spectacular examples of this weird organism that I have ever seen. It begins life as a swarm of microscopic, amoeba-like organisms that slither over tree bark, engulfing bacteria. Eventually they aggregate to form these white, tear drop-like blobs that form a hard white skin and produce millions of powdery spores inside, that are dispersed when the skin ruptures. Each spore germinates to form another amoeba. Each of the white blobs here is about the size of half a tennis ball; I have never seen so many in one place. You can find out more about Low barns Reserve at

and more about this slime mould at

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