The Slime Mould

Slime-mould eating a fungus by Graham Watkeys

Slime-mould eating a fungus by Graham Watkeys

The Hazels at Taf Fechan destined for coppicing are usually marked with yellow line marking paint, so seeing a large blob of yellow on a tree wasn’t a surprise and I was only interested in the fungus at first, but this blob of yellow wasn’t paint.

Coppicing at Taf Fechan

Coppicing at Taf Fechan

The fungus is Wrinkled Crust. The fungus is doomed, it’s being slowly eaten alive by a slime-mould (a misnomer as it isn’t actually a mould or in fact a fungus they have a category all to themselves).

Usually existing as separate single cells, slime-moulds congregate at this time of year (nobody knows how they do this) creating a yellow gooey super-predator consuming everything in its path.

The slime-mould actively travels hunting for its food of bacteria, fungi and other organic matter (nobody knows how it does this), a mass of single cells without a nervous system or any kind of brain acting like a single entity (nobody knows how they do this).

Out of the chaos of the multitude order is created simulating purpose and direction where none exists beyond the relentless need for food.

When the food runs out this conglomeration decides it’s time to reproduce (nobody knows how it does this) the millions of identical cells spontaneously reorganise themselves into a wholly new configuration creating mushroom like structures, some become stems, some spores (nobody knows how it does this) the simple becoming complex, the uniform becoming specialised.

The spores are released into the wind and the Slime-mould becomes a disparate unicellular organism again.

The world has some extraordinary inhabitants.