Last week after rain, I discovered a lichen with a raised milky-white centre. After trying to convince people that I had found the rare “Poached Egg Lichen”, I was politely informed that the white mass was a False Puffball Reticularia Lycerpodon that just happened to form its spore mass on a lichen.
This is a type of slime mould that is distinctive in forming a tough ‘skin’ on its powdery spore mass (sporangium) to resemble a puffball. The skin became obvious as the sporangium dried.
It is quite unusual to find slime moulds in November. As their name signifies, they move around in wet weather, (mostly winter) as slimy threads of protoplasm called plasmodium, that group together to form fruiting bodies (sporangia). If conditions become very dry when this species is in the plasmodial stage it is able to survive as a dry dormant resting body called a sclerotium. When wet weather returns the sclerotium changes to the plasmodial stage to feed before forming a sporangium at the end of the season.
Note that there are two lichen species on the bark. The large one faded from sea green to greenish grey as it dried, but the small one retained its light green colour.
A Buddhist saying goes “If a fool persists in his folly. He may become a wise man”
Let us hope it works!
p.s. The saying is equally applicable to all genders.