Mucilago crustacea P. Micheli ex F.H. Wigg.   

Kingdom: Protozoa
Phylum: Amoebozoa
Subphylum: Mycetozoa
Class: Myxogastria

British distribution: Widespread
World distribution: To be checked

Mucilago_crustacea, fructifying plasmodium
Mucilago_crustacea, fructifying plasmodium
Mucilago_crustacea, fructifying plasmodium
Mucilago_crustacea, fructifying plasmodium
Mucilago crustacea, showing fructifying plamodium and mature sporing stage (aethalium), Ayrshire, October 2006.

Mucilago crustacea is a frequent slime-mould (myxomycete), appearing on damp grass, including pastures, lawns and amenity grassland. It is commonly said to resemble dogs' vomit and sometimes causes some alarm to owners and users of the grassland, but is harmless and soon disappears.

The mobile, multinucleate stage, the plasmodium, is pale, creamy yellow at the onset of the fruiting stage. It emerges from the soil onto grass and coalesces into a single mass, becoming an aethalium, which may be several centimetres in length, turns white (rarely yellow) and is a mass of tubules. A crystalline outer cortex forms, and very soon this begins to flake away, revealing the black spore mass.

There is but a single species of Mucilago (Ing 1999). However, Fuligo septica, associated with rotting wood, can appear similar. The aethalium is commonly bright yellow and can look like scrambled egg. The cortex is not crystalline and the spores are 7–9µm in diameter (11–13µm in M. crustacea).

Ing (1999) and Poulain et al. (2011) provide keys to myxomycetes, the latter in both French and English, and the latter publication also includes an extensive atlas of excellent colour photographs.

•   Ing, B. (1999). The myxomycetes of Britain and Ireland. An identification handbook, Richmond Publishing Co., Slough.
•   Poulain, M., Meyer, M., & Bozonnet, J., (2011). Les myxomycètes (2 vols.). Fédération mycologique et botanique, Dauphiné-Savoie.

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