Mysterious Mass (fungus?) - Knowledgebase Question

Centerbrook, CT
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Question by pinckney
April 7, 2001
I recently began cleaning up along a stone wall behind my house. The area is wooded and old logs as well as garden debris have been dumped there over the last several years. I was excited to find "free" compost beneath the pile but I am perplexed by a large quantity of a substance I found. It has a texture similar to petroleum jelly but is milky grey in color with some yellow areas. It washes off easily with water (good thing too since I stepped in it). If it was something dumped by a previous owner it would seem to me that it would have washed away. Is this possibly a natural substance, a fungal growth? It doesn't seem to have affected the surrounding growth. Should I refrain from planting in the area?

Answer from NGA
April 7, 2001
You may have come across a slime mold, part of the natural cycle of decay and soil renewal. In and of itself it would not be harmful, however if the wood is still the main component of the soil it may not yet be composted enough to really support plant growth all that well.

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