Plasmodial Paradise

Plasmodial Paradise

Behold the Blob?

Have you seen or stepped in some seemingly disgusting things in your yard lately and have been too grossed out by the possibilities to figure out what it could have been? Well, rest easy, slime molds; unique, non-pathogenic fungi common to turfgrass, have been reported recently sighted on lawns in the region. Slime molds spend most of their lives as single celled microorganisms in the soil feeding on other microorganisms and decaying organic matter. When weather turns moist and warm slime molds make their way up to the surface and begin to develop their reproductive structures on turfgrass leaves. Plasmodia, the fruiting structures of the slime mold, come in every color of the rainbow, except a true green, due to the lack of chlorophyll.

Slime molds eventually dry out and produce sporangia, releasing spores into the grass which will overwinter in the thatch.

Slime molds eventually dry out and produce sporangia, releasing spores into the grass which will overwinter in the thatch.

Red plasmodium on turfgrass.

Red plasmodium on turfgrass.

When weather cools, but remains humid, spores released from sporangium will absorb the water and open to release another single celled microorganism. While these amoeba-esque beings feed on decay and other microorganism they will not infect lawns and cause harm. Slime molds may cause yellowing in the spots they briefly inhabit on the turf, but damage is usually minor and temporary.

Plasmodia establish on azalea leaves.

Plasmodia establish on azalea leaves.

Physarum plasmodium on turfgrass.

Physarum plasmodium on turfgrass.