Stemonitis! I want to make a joke about getting tubular with fungus but I can’t *quite* bring myself to do it.
They look like mushrooms who forgot to put their caps on, but Stemonitis is a kind of slime mould. These clusters of cylinders are their sporangia — where the spores form.
Slime mould used to be considered a fungus, but now they’ve all been reclassified outside that Kingdom. Regardless of which kingdom they’re a citizen of, slime moulds are fascinating — “they move and feed like animals” (Barron). They *move*. I highly recommend giving them a Google.
Most descriptions I found call Stemonitis “rusty-brown”. I would describe these ones that way, but many of the Stemonitis I saw looked very purple. It was the purple that caught my eye in the woods. As in, “what the heck are those little purple jobbies??”
This Stemonitis was fruiting on a log that is already well colonized by Chlorociboria aeruginascens (blue-stain fungus). So it’s both a log I love to look at, and a log I don’t look at closely anymore, because I think I know its story. Lesson learned… Again.
Only saw these chaps because I was in the woods looking for nothing, which means I can be distracted by anything, and that’s when I see everything.
Have a great Thursday folks!