My Precocious little Tremella mesenterica.

My lease says, “No Pets!” So it probably goes without saying that my pets can’t have pets either. Try telling a Yellow Brain Fungus that πŸ™‚

It is raining today. Fizz and I have been out for hours but taking photographs was difficult so today I am not going to write “The Hunt For Red November,” which is what our walk turned into, I am going to tell you a different story.

Cast your mind back to March. Fizz and I were just little puppies then with all of the Spring and Summer to look forward to. We were exploring the sheep pasture when we found some interesting sticks under an old Oak tree.

Yellow Brain FungusThis stick contains a fungus known as Yellow Brain Fungus or Tremella mesenterica.

Yellow Brain Fungus

Yellow Brain Fungus

Yellow Brain FungusIt is an interesting Jelly fungus because although it lives in dead wood it does not feed on the wood, it is parasitic on crust fungi that are also in the wood.

I brought my sticks home to live with me for future observation and also because I sometimes get lonely and I thought that it would be nice to have a pet of my own.

SticksThe other sticks in this picture are possessed by a fungi called Black Witches Butter, I will tell their story another day.

Just as with any new pet I taught it basic obedience. I taught it to “Stay.” That was the only thing that it really picked up.

Then at the beginning of March I put it on a shed roof just outside of my front door and told it to stay. A grape vine grew over it and I forgot about it until yesterday. Eight months later my obedient stick was right where I had left it.

It had developed a new fruit body.

Yellow Brain FungusThis fruit is a very different colour because it is wet. As it dries out the colour gets darker and the one that I found in March was quite dry. I am very happy to see it like this, it has added to my knowledge of Yellow Brain Fungi πŸ™‚

Yellow Brain Fungus

Yellow Brain Fungus

Yellow Brain FungusBut this is not what this post is about…..

Down at the other end of the stick something else was going on.

Tremella mesenterica stickNow I have a stick that is possessed by a yellow fungi and so I naturally assumed that the yellow “happening” at the end of the stick was another aspect of my T. mesenterica.

It doesn’t look like Yellow Brain Fungus but what are the chances of my stick being owned by two different yellow species?

Slime Mould

Slime MouldI keep my brains in a stick on the shed roof, I had to seek expert help and after a bit of head scratching this is what they told me…

You do indeed have two different species in your stick Colin. That what you are watching is a slime mould just beginning to form.

My Brain Fungus has a pet of it’s own.

Slime Mould

Slime MouldSlime Moulds are amoebas, single cell organisms. They are very similar to fungi and used to be classified as such but now they belong to a different Kingdom altogether, theΒ Amoebozoa.

Like Fungi they reproduce through spores and they eat organic matter but unlike fungi they can move.

When food is abundant slime moulds only exist as single cell organisms but when food is in short supply they can send out a signal to all the other little slime moulds that calls them all together. They congregate into a bigger organism that can detect new food supplies.

That is what we are watching. The Slime Moulds are having a party πŸ™‚

AmoebozoaWhen I checked on them this morning they had transformed themselves.

Slime MouldI am sorry about the quality of these pictures but it really is dark and wet here and I have to photograph this now, as it happens.

Slime MouldA couple of hours later it is evident that they are still moving.

Slime MouldWhere are they going? Do they want us to follow them? Is Little Timmy trapped down a well somewhere?

Hang on Timmy! Help is on the way. (Hmm… Slime Moulds move quite slowly, I am afraid Little Timmy is out of luck)

Nevertheless we shall follow it.

Slime MouldI have no idea what species this is but we may be able to find out when it is more fully formed or at least find out something more about it.

So that has been one of the highlights of my day. I am hoping for better weather tomorrow. Until then….

 

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61 thoughts on “My Precocious little Tremella mesenterica.”

    1. Thank you Sabra πŸ™‚ That is great. Remind him that my pictures are free to download and play with as much as he likes. Be creative. (Click on a picture to open it, right click and select “Save as”). When I was a child I would spend ages tracing and drawing animals, reading about them. Some children have a fascination with nature and should be encouraged πŸ™‚

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      1. Forgive this delayed response, the “young master” of the house has had the flu this week. Thank you for telling me how to download the pictures. I’m “tech challenged” and was wondering how he could share your pictures with his science class. I love sharing nature with him- he seems to enjoy it almost as much as me. (i think this is because nature is so “hands on” and sensory) Visiting your blog is like going on a hiking adventure without having to leave the house… which has been perfect this week! πŸ™‚ Thank you! P.s.-please let us know if you find the gorillas…lol

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      1. Thanks so much, Colin! I love your blog, too. In my two trips to the UK, I never did any proper natural history investigation – too busy with archaeology and tourist sites. So your blog fills that gap nicely. Next time I come, I’ll definitely be looking at natural history, which is so different from ours in Oz.

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  1. You said it moves. Does that make it an animal? Sorry, I had biology a really long time ago. I suppose now they can just read genes to classify things instead of by observing what they look like and how they behave…

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    1. Thank you Ann πŸ™‚ No it isn’t an animal. It isn’t a plant or a fungi either. Without getting too complicated, since 1998 life has been classified as belonging to one of six taxonomic kingdoms, plant, animal and fungi being three of them. The slime moulds belong in another kingdom, the Protozoa and within that the Amoebozoa. They are something completely different.

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  2. I’m delighted that your sticks can obey a simple command. May I suggest, that if you wish to continue their training, you teach them to roll over. Perhaps Fizz can help with that. While I think the yellow brain fungus is a lovely color and I do enjoy a clever amoeba, even a volvox or two, I must admit that I’m more of a a cat person. To each his or her own, as they say. I’m sorry about Timmy but sometimes the well wins. ❀

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    1. Thank you Gigi πŸ™‚ I am not sure about Fizz teaching the stick anything. The stick has a better grasp of the command “stay” than Fizz can manage. Fizz rolls over when she feels like it and considers celebrities above obedience. She does a good quizzical look when asked to do anything πŸ™‚

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  3. A real treat, today, Colin. Thank you. I’m still waiting for news of the FOD yeti or whatever is loose in your neighbourhood. Surely the slime mould couldn’t be crashing through the forest? It is all very reminiscent of Dr. Who.

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  4. Hi..John from suchled blog suggested that I visit your blog as I have a nature blog in the US. I do love fungi and I have taken photos and then tried to identify them only to find out there are groups on the internet that love fungi and share info..but I couldn’t identify mine…Michelle

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    1. Hi Michelle, it is so nice to meet you πŸ™‚ (thank you John) Yours is a big blog that I could get lost in for hours and it has already swallowed an hour of my morning. I really like your “Nature notes” idea as a way of spreading the love of nature and I particularly liked that the first link I followed took me to a site on Blogger rather than WP.
      I have been aware for some time that there is an alternative universe out there and I have been trying to find ways to communicate with the people there. It is like there are two Forests of Dean and two sets of people and we occupy the same geographical space but we can’t see them and they can’t see us. I call them “The Others.”
      You have so much stuff on your site and so many links, it must take you a lot of time to do all of that. I think that your blog is a good example of what a nature blog should be and I will have to work on mine. I will be back to visit you soon πŸ™‚

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  5. Oh for the love of slime! I’m glued to β€œStay”. And that lovely tremella mesenterica could start a whole new meditative state of β€˜fungus shui’ all by itself. A prolific post of brain teasers! Ne’er a dull movement, stickly speaking.

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  6. We grew slime mould in a petrie dish in our high school biology class once. It was a fun experiment, but we only were able to see it during our biology class time, so didn’t really see it move or change phases. I think I’ve learned much more from visiting your blog! And it was a lot more fun reading about it here than in my biology text, too.
    BTW… I think Timmy is safe. I think the slime mould is stalking the brain fungus!

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  7. What a world we live in! Colin, in the UK, brings across the internet a gripping tale of a stick…fungus on one end…creeping mould on the other…….And I am totally absorbed in knowing what is going to happen next. With each Tramp with Fizz you offer knowledge to we who follow.
    Thank you.

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  8. That is absolutely amazing my friend, and I would really like to see any further developments. I love stuff like this and thank you very much for sharing. Thanks again, and please post some updates if possible.

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