Leocarpus fragilis

Leocarpus Fragilis, (insect egg slime mold) Vancouver Island, BC
Leocarpus Fragilis, (insect egg slime mold) Vancouver Island, BC, photo by Bud Logan

Leocarpus fragilis is a slime mold.  Slime molds were known as a fungi species historically, but they now have been moved to the class Myxomycetes. Leocarpus fragilis is found worldwide and typically inhabits dark, moist forest settings, growing on decaying leaves, branches, and logs.

The main phase of this organism consists of the plasmodium. It is during this stage that the organism searches for food, slowly moving along the forest floor, traveling up to 2.5 cm per hour! The plasmodium surrounds its food and then secretes enzymes to digest it. It begins as a bright orange series of small bulbs but rather quickly the orange turns to brown. In this phase, Leocarpus fragilis may be mistaken for clusters of insect eggs.
Leocarpus Fragilis, (insect egg slime mold) Vancouver Island, BC
Leocarpus Fragilis, (insect egg slime mold) Vancouver Island, BC, photo by Robert Logan

It’s important to realize that slime molds are very sensitive to environmental conditions. The best time to observe the plasmodial phase is immediately following a period of rain. The shift from the plasmodial phase to the spore-forming phase is rapid, literally occurring overnight. These wonderful little slime molds are incredible to observe, and I just love running into them while hiking in our island forests.

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