Observation 57105: Icmadophila ericetorum (L.) Zahlbr.

When: 2010-08-18

Collection location: Haystack Trail, Cordova, Alaska, USA [Click for map]

Who: Debbie Viess (amanitarita)

No specimen available



Proposed Names

-29% (6)
Recognized by sight: pink cushion slime mold atop lichen.
9% (4)
Recognized by sight: I’ve seen something very similar very recently here in Oregon. My suspicion is that this is akin to the often pink, protruding “fruits” found on basidiolichen spp. such as Coenogonium. Jason will be here in a minute to confirm or deny, I’m sure.

Please login to propose your own names and vote on existing names.

Eye3 = Observer’s choice
Eyes3 = Current consensus


Add Comment
Gotta leave a few mysteries…
By: Jason Hollinger (jason)
2010-10-31 02:01:28 GMT (+0000)

You didn’t happen to have a leaky bottle of lye in your collection bag, did you? (Don’t we all?) Maybe it was in contact with a nice slimy Hygrocybe?

alright, I give…
By: Debbie Viess (amanitarita)
2010-10-31 01:54:02 GMT (+0000)

the photo of Icmadophila ericetorum “hiding” here on MO, forwarded to me by Darv, is a dead ringer for my sighting:


But how to explain the fragility of the apothecia?

‘ignore the gray-green background lichen’
By: damon brunette (damonbrunette)
2010-10-31 01:49:00 GMT (+0000)

pay no attention to the man behind the curtain…

I agree this is NOT a Lycogalia…
By: Debbie Viess (amanitarita)
2010-10-31 01:32:54 GMT (+0000)

because of the smooth texture of the cushions, but noone has convinced me yet that this is not a slime mold of some sort atop a lichen.

do lichen fruit bodies dissolve at a touch like slime molds do? Cause that is what happened with this one when I stuck it in my collecting box…

By: Darvin DeShazer (darv)
2010-10-31 01:10:42 GMT (+0000)

It is not a Lycogala. No scales, smooth peridium.

one thing
By: damon brunette (damonbrunette)
2010-10-31 01:58:24 BST (+0100)

about my experience with myxos, and lycogola in general, you dont see ‘slime trails’ and frbs together. Jason is correct about something looking off about this if it were lycogola.

if you make the image big…
By: Debbie Viess (amanitarita)
2010-10-31 01:40:06 BST (+0100)

you can see the slime trails covering the lichen. I think this is a slime mold guys, at least the pink bits. they dissolved at a touch…does that sound characteristic of lichen apothecia?

what about Dibaeis baeomyces?
By: Danny Newman (myxomop)
2010-10-30 19:43:33 BST (+0100)

that might account for the inflated apothecia. then again I can’t help but notice that there are no stipes to be found anywhere in the photo.

is there really no record of I. ericetorum having even slightly un-discoid/semi-globular/irregular fruit bodies?

I’m not sure it’s so simple
By: Jason Hollinger (jason)
2010-10-30 03:34:37 BST (+0100)

I’ve shown this to other lichenologists and all agree with me that this looks exactly like Icmadophila ericetorum. I know Lycogala epidendrum is pink and gooey, vaguely like this… but definitely not this. Are there any other slimes even close to this?? Frankly, I think we need to seek other options. Having seemingly ruled out the two obvious choices, we need to consider less plausible ones. Such as, for example, maybe it is I. ericetorum which has been parasitized in some way to make the apothecia disintegrate? Or you’ve discovered a new species? I stand by my two (very weak) votes. The only thing I can say with certainty is that I can’t say with certainty what kingdom it is!

OK guys, so what are we naming here?
By: Debbie Viess (amanitarita)
2010-10-30 03:14:03 BST (+0100)

ignore the gray-green background lichen, it’s a substrate for the life-form of interest, those pink, gooey blobs.

do lichens form pink, gooey, easily smeared cushiony blobs?

if not, then this sighting is not a lichen.

please vote accordingly.

hey, maybe we’re both right! :)
By: Jason Hollinger (jason)
2010-10-29 20:22:39 BST (+0100)
if the fruit bodies of your lichen aren’t ephemeral and gooey…
By: Debbie Viess (amanitarita)
2010-10-29 20:14:28 BST (+0100)

then this must be a myxo afterall.

“home” was our home away from home in Cordova…
By: Debbie Viess (amanitarita)
2010-10-29 20:03:38 BST (+0100)

I do not have it. In fact, I tossed it once I thought it was “just” a slimemold.
The gray-green (not lime green) surface underneath those pink gooey cushions is certainly a lichen. But slime molds can fruit on anything, yah? being motile and all…

Are we heading back to Myxo-land with this sighting?

I thought there was nothing else like it…
By: Jason Hollinger (jason)
2010-10-29 19:58:39 BST (+0100)

The inflated apothecia are bizarre, I concede. You brought it home with you? A simple squash mount should remove any doubt. Or scratch the lime green thallus — does it have algae?

The identifying characters of Icmadophila are: spores: 8 per ascus, hyaline, 1-3 septate, fusiform, thin-walled; asci cylindrical to narrowly clavate, with a thin tholus staining dark blue in Lugol’s; apothecia biatorine with pale rim receding with age, colorless hypothecium and hymenium.

This also describes several other biatorine genera, but the combination of bright pink apothecia and lime-green “melted-granular” crustose thallus occur nowhere else… in lichendom. But then, lichen apothecia are not evanescent structures as yours are, so I’m willing to open the door to other groups. Anyone know what real fairy puke looks like? (Probably depends on what they’ve eaten.)

huh, go figure!
By: Debbie Viess (amanitarita)
2010-10-29 16:20:26 BST (+0100)

when we first saw this I also thought it was lichen fruit…but in bringing a piece home with me, I discovered that those cushions dissolved just like a slime mold does!

why are the fruit bodies of this particular lichen so slime-mold-ish?

love the common name, Fairy Puke: so magical yet so disgusting…:)

One of my favorite lichens!
By: Jason Hollinger (jason)
2010-10-29 10:51:11 BST (+0100)

One of the common names is “fairy puke”. :) The apothecia are generally flatter, but there’s no mistaking this thing — nothing else like it.

Created: 2010-10-28 04:59:53 BST (+0100)
Last modified: 2011-04-08 18:32:29 BST (+0100)
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