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A backyard curiosity

IMG_4041There is an old apple stump out in our back yard. Today I noticed an unusual growth on it. This brown feathery growth is on the top and sides of the stump, which suggests the organism producing it has spread throughout the stump.

I was on the phone with my brother at the time, so I sent some photos over to him, and he looked for it his Audubon mushroom guide while we talked. It appears to be – and I say appears because photos are not completely adequate for identifying fungi – chocolate tube slime mold, also known as hairy stemonitis, or by its latin name, Stemonitis splendens. Aha, so slime molds do not all look slimy.

At first glance it appears to be all composed of this feathery brown stuff, but on closer examination, each of the “feathers” are supported by dark, slender stalks. Waving my finger through it releases a brown dust, which I presume are spores.

This is the second unsual fungi I have found in the garden this year, the first being some so-called dead man’s fingers, which I also posted about here.

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