Slime Mold

(Question)

In our garden today, there is a strange glob…it is the colour of mandarin oranges, looks crusty but is in fact frothy. When you scrape away the outer coating it looks like seeds inside. One photo shows my foot to give actual overall size, the other is to show the seedy innards. The earth to the garden side look like a coating of slime. we are very curious. Looks like I can only send 1 photo. there are others if you are interested.

garden goop 1

(Answer)

 

Your photo shows a perfect example of the slime mold Fuligo septica, frequently called the “dog-vomit fungus.” . Several kinds of slime mold are frequently encountered on lawns and gardens especially after warm wet weather.

 F. septica appears as yellow or orange foamy slime in the beginning of its reproductive cycle, but within a day or two begins to dry and harden into a crusty, gray or brown shrunken mass. This mass eventually breaks open, releasing millions of spores into the air and surrounding environment. It typically occurs after very wet, warm weather in the summer and favors damp, rotting wood mulch. Slime molds are not true fungi but primitive fungal-like organisms currently classified with protists. These fungi are mobile, they are able to creep slowly across the ground, sometimes climbing onto plants or walls.

Slime molds are usually a cosmetic problem and usually do no harm the plants that they grow on or near. . In some cases a severe infestation of slime mold on your grass may cause the lawn to temporarily turn yellow because it blocks the sun, however once the slime mold dries out it will disappear and the lawn will recover.

The good news is slime molds are considered to be beneficial organisms because they decompose dead organic matter and help the cycling of nutrients. It has also been reported that in some cases slime molds will consume plant pathogenic fungi or bacteria in the soil, helping to reduce plant disease.

It is good to know that other than the unattractive, orange slimy appearance, this fungus is not harmful, and you do not need to remove it from your grass or garden. However, the spores can remain viable for many years and if you do not wish a reoccurance the following year the easiest way to remove it is to let the area dry out  by raking up the slime mold in the garden mulch to expose the organism to the drying air.

You may wish to review the following article which describes it’s life cycle and many other interesting facts: https://www.extension.iastate.edu/newsrel/2003/mar03/mar0303.html