High-level taxonomy aside, the slime-moulds are, to many people, an unfamiliar and mysterious group of organisms even though many are distinctive and, during their 'plasmodium' stage quite large - some, weighing 20kg or more (yes, 20kg) and covering/filling whole logs, may even be the largest single cells known. However, most are smaller but still have a plasmodium several centimetres across and often brightly coloured. Most species live in woodlands in the sorts of microhabitat often associated with Fungi - the focus here is on just one of these, tree-stumps. In fact, the first three species were all found on a single stump in the New Forest just a couple of days ago:
|A closer view of C. fruticulosa.|
|Brown slime-mould structures, like eggs in a nest.|
|Here they are emerging and also showing orange and reddish colours.|
|More examples of orange structures.|
|A close-up of an orange-red structure emerging from a crack in a stump.|
Now, I am no expert on slime-moulds, but I do find them intriguing - and it's quite a sight when several brightly coloured species inhabit the same piece of dead wood. However, I can recommend the excellent handbook by Ing (1999) which I am highly reliant on - it won't give you lots of colour photos (though a web search will), but it does provide simple line drawings of key structures, keys, spore measurements and so on covering the few hundred species in Britain. It's also the first comprehensive work on the British species since 1877!
Enjoy the slime!
Ing, B. (1999). The Myxomycetes of Britain and Ireland: An Identification Handbook. Richmond, Slough.