Monday, 7 May 2012

Shape shifters in the Forest of the Wolves

False puffballs 2011
Apart from the wolves we also have shape shifters or slime moulds.  From what little I understand these organisms (or creatures?) start life as a single cell amoeba. After mating they form zygotes which in turn develop into plasmodium. The joys of Wikipedia mean you can quickly cross reference all these bits of jargon so here’s what’s said about plasmodium:

an amoeboid, multinucleate and naked mass of protoplasm having many diploid nuclei and is the result of many nuclear divisions without cytokinesis... (So now you know!) .....When the food supply wanes, the plasmodium will migrate to the surface of its substrate and transform into rigid fruiting bodies. The fruiting bodies or sporangia are what we commonly see; they superficially look like fungi or moulds but are not related to the true fungi. These sporangia will then release spores which hatch into amoebae to begin the life cycle again

I knowingly encountered my first slime mould on 29th April 2011, it was the False Puffball,  Enteridium lycoperdon, about three to four metres off the ground on the shaded side of the trunk of an oak tree .

False Puffball 6th May 2012
I have been keeping an eye out for my friend or friends who eventually re-appeared a couple of trees away but at least a week later than last year. Are they later because of the cold weather or were they slower eating the available food?
False puffball 11th May 2012

If you want to see them they’ll be around until about 20th May after which time they will have released their spores and all you’ll see will look like the dried remains of a mudball.  The tree is opposite Coed y Bleiddiau cottage come railway halt at map reference 6642441746. This is what they looked like on 6th May 2012:

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