Flowers of Tan
Widespread in numerous habitats from suburban gardens to forests and in all States. The distribution shown on the map is based on herbarium records and reliable sightings. It is likely that this species has a wider distribution than that shown on the map. However there has been little work on the distribution of Australian fungi and there are surprisingly few herbarium specimens of even the common species. (ACT, NSW, QLD, SA, TAS, VIC, WA, NT).
The mobile (or plasmodial) stage of this myxomycete is usually yellow, but may sometimes be white or creamy. Under cool, moist conditions the plasmodium can spread over 20 centimetres or more.
In the stationary, sporing stage the organism consists of a powdery mass of dark purplish brown to black spores encased within a very thin and brittle shell. The sporing stage usually takes a low mounded form – anywhere from 2 to 20 cm in diameter and up to 3 cm in height. The outer shell can be white, ochre, pink or purple.
Ecology/Way of Life:
During the mobile feeding stage, the organism moves over soil, mulch and garden paths, engulfing bacteria, fungal spores and organic debris.
Interaction with Humans/Threats:
This species is commonly seen in suburban gardens, where the unsightly plasmodium can be a cause for concern, more so if a large plasmodium is spreading over low plants. However, Fuligo is not a plant parasite and can usually be ignored. While the organism produces no poisons, a large sporing form can be a danger to people with breathing problems (e.g. asthmatics). If a mass of spores is kicked into the air and breathed in, then breathing problems or an asthmatic attack may follow.
The type specimen was collected in France. The species is very common, cosmopolitan and conspicuous. It is one of the few myxomycetes with a common name that arose from it often being found on piles of bark used in tanneries.
Lister, A. (1925). A Monograph of the Mycetozoa, 3rd. ed. (rev. by G. Lister). British Museum, London.
Martin, G.W. & Alexopoulos, C.J. (1969). The Myxomycetes. University of Iowa Press.
Mitchell, DW. (1995). The Myxomycota of Australia. Nova Hedwigia, 60: pp269 – 295.
Nannenga–Bremekamp, N.E. (1991). A Guide to Temperate Myxomycetes. Biopress, Bristol.
Stephenson, S.L. & Stempen, H. (1994). Myxomycetes: a Handbook of Slime Molds. Timber Press, Portland, Oregon.
Text and map by Heino Lepp.
Image kindly provided by Bruce Fuhrer from his recent book: A Field Guide to Australian Fungi
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