The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 25, 2002


Wolf's Milk Slime

Name: Lycogala epidendrum or Wolf's Milk Slime or Toothpaste Slime.

When and where seen: On an old fallen pine log in the Greenough Land on October 19. I also found some at the Cranberry Bog during Mass. Biodiversity Days at the beginning of June. It is quite common on large logs and can be seen from June through November.

Distinguishing characteristics: Wolf's Milk Slime appears as small reddish-pink blobs that darken to brown as they age and ripen. Large blobs would be about half an inch in diameter.

The Jack o' Lantern mushroom that glows in the dark, the Black Witches Butter and Dead Man's Fingers are all suitable fungi to talk about on the week before Halloween but I haven't seen any lately. Spiders seem to be coming indoors as the weather gets cooler but so far nothing big, hairy, and scary. The only bats I've seen in the last few weeks are on the postage stamps. So I am back to one of my favorite categories of fungi, the slime molds. Trick or treaters at my house.. be very careful!

If you look at the blobs closely you will see that they are rough, even covered with tiny warts, as any good Halloween organism should be.

Sliminess: Fresh young blobs of Wolf's Milk Slime are full of pink goo that you can squeeze out with your fingers and discover why this fungus is sometimes called the Toothpaste Slime. If left alone, the pink goo becomes purple and quite firm in consistency. If you cut open a semi-mature brown blob of Wolf's Milk Slime you will see the wonderful purple transitional color. When the spore mass is fully mature, it is no longer slimy but powdery and brown. At this point in the life cycle, the outer wall is soft and the spores escape through an opening at the top, just like puffballs.

Reference: National Audubon Society Field Guide to Mushrooms.

Animal, vegetable and fungal candidates for the Biodiversity Corner are invited and encouraged. Send a note, a photo, an idea or the whole column to Kay Fairweather at 392 School St, Carlisle MA 01741 or to

2002 The Carlisle Mosquito