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Bubble gum? No, pink slime mould.

Posted by Miranda Hodgson on 22 Jan 2011 at 05:16 PM

One of the apple trees succumbed to honey fungus late last year. It was cut down and the branches put in an adjoining field prior to being cut up and burned. Then we had all that snow, so they waited for some weeks.

We finally got round to dealing with them last week and found something very interesting along the way. In amongst the beautiful lichens growing along the branches were tiny patches of what looked very much like pink bubblegum. If it wasn’t bubblegum, what was it and how did it get there?



Most blobs were about the size of a pin head whilst others had grown to about 1cm (approx 0.4’’) across. I’d seen something similar, but that was orange and not pink, though also growing on damp, decaying wood. Going back to my books, I looked up the orange blobs and reminded myself that this strange substance is known as a Toothpaste slime mould and apparently they don’t only come in bright orange, but pink as well. They are actually very common, living on dead and decaying wood, and are not considered harmful to living things.

 

 

 

Slime moulds, many classified within the group called Myxomycetes, are puzzling. To start with, for a good while taxonomists couldn’t even decide if they are animals, fungi or something in between. Think about that!

What’s more, they can move, some of them up to 2cm a minute. According to Wikipedia, ‘It has been observed that they can find their way through mazes by spreading out and choosing the shortest path,’ whilst ‘In 2006, researchers at the University of Southampton and the University of Kobe reported that they had built a six-legged robot whose movement was remotely controlled by a Physarum slime mould. The mould directed the robot into a dark corner most similar to its natural habitat.’ Isn’t that just amazing.

 

 

 

Why haven’t I looked into this before? I mean, it isn’t as if slime moulds are rare, it seems that they’re all over the place - on old wood, in leaf litter, on lawns and in soil. There is a whole new world out there just waiting to be investigated. The strange and wonderful world of slime moulds. I can search them out, take pictures of them, look them up, make lists and think about this strange place we call home.

 

Life cycle of the slime mould

Comments

Bubble gum? No, pink slime mould. | Gardening News said:

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on 22 Jan 2011 at 08:06 PM

Bubble gum? No, pink slime mould. | Gardening News said:

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on 22 Jan 2011 at 08:06 PM

EvaInNL said:

They're rather beautiful too! Great article Miranda!

on 23 Jan 2011 at 10:09 AM

richardpeeej said:

Very interesting to learn about all these different moulds Miranda. It is intriquing to find that they were used to steer a robot too.

on 23 Jan 2011 at 02:04 PM

Miranda Hodgson said:

Thanks both! Yes, bizarre isn't it - I was thinking about it last night and it occurred to me that if I could find a couple of blobs of the stuff that moves, I could set up slime mould races :-)

on 23 Jan 2011 at 02:53 PM

EvaInNL said:

LOL - finally a race at my speed! :O)

on 23 Jan 2011 at 09:13 PM

asj said:

Nice one, Miranda - trust you to find a pink mould when the rest of us have to make do with boring orange or brown!!

on 24 Jan 2011 at 02:34 PM

Miranda Hodgson said:

Keep a look out, asj, there might be more out there! Amazing colour, though, isn't it.

on 25 Jan 2011 at 03:25 PM

Bubble gum? No, pink slime mould. | Gardening Advice said:

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on 09 Jun 2011 at 01:18 AM

Sylvain said:

We have pink bubble gum looking stuff that grew.  I put lime in the garden last night to try to adjust the ph and this morning this is what was there:

patriciawinchild.com/webpage_with_pink_slime_image.html  Is this pink slime mould?

on 24 Mar 2012 at 12:23 PM

Miranda Hodgson said:

That does look like the same slime mould that we found, Sylvain, but it isn't the one that moves about. I still haven't found any of that!

on 14 Apr 2012 at 10:22 AM