Wednesday, 13 January 2016

My kind of microbeads

Went back to the tree that's home to what-I-think-is Panellus stipticus the other evening, on my way home from work, to see if I could catch it glowing. Sadly still no sign of any bioluminescent tendencies. But when I pulled the branch down to get a closer look, I noticed my fingers were left covered in charcoal-like dust. Intriguing!

I returned today, to take a look in the daylight...
... and I discovered the underside of the branch (which is only about 4 or 5 cm wide) is also home to a patch of tiny ashen-white globes - each about 1 mm across. You can just about make them out in this picture, although they're incredibly fragile and many are broken.

I did my best to get a specimen and managed to get home with a couple of the tiny spheres almost intact. Hard to do justice to with a cameraphone down a microscope, but they look AMAZING. Like perfectly round microbeads...
And inside they have these filamentous structures which, in the more intact specimens, hold even-more-miniscule round black capsules. Slightly reminiscent of the inside of a pomegranate:
It must be these black capsules that leave the charcoal-like dust on ones hands. Spores? I tried looking at them under the slide microscope but either I'm terrible at microscopy, or they do just look kind of round and black.

The other feature I managed to make out, which you can just about see here, is that the globes seem to be sitting on the end of short, hairy stalks:


My best guess would be the remains of the fruiting bodies, or 'sporangia', of a slime mold.

Slime molds are like nothing else. They are not fungi. But they're really cool so I'll let them be in my blog.

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