The Q&A Archives: What is it? Mold?

Question: We have some wood chips down around our front walk and just recently we've had spots of something orange coming up. At first I thought one of my children's sidewalk chalks had been rained on and spread out but now there is too much of it. Next I wondered if our neighbor's cat vomitted on our chips. Now I'm wondering if it is some kind of a mold? There are three spots now and it really looks bad. Any ideas?

Answer: Welcome to the wonderful world of slime molds! Slime molds belong to a class of fungi, the Myxomycetes, that is characterized by the production of relatively large, single-celled, multinucleate bodies called plasmodia (singular = plasmodium). Plasmodia are the feeding stages of slime molds, and they are frequently seen on lawns, small plants, mulch, and decaying wood in summer. Slime molds are not plant parasites, but they may injure plants by covering and shading them.

Slime molds are frequently observed when they form large colonies on mulch around trees or shrubs. They may initially appear as a slimy mound or mass, come in a variety of colors, and are often unsightly. Slime molds are not plant parasites, and will disappear if left alone, but their unsightly appearance may necessitate more rapid removal. On mulch, they can be raked or turned under and on turf they can be mowed. They can also be broken up or washed away with a forceful spray from a garden hose.

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