By Roz Hart, Fungimap President
My four year old grandson Miles Hart was playing in the natural areas playground in Kings Park, Perth, when he noticed what looked like small greeny-blue and some bronze-gold metallic balls sticking at the base and up a tree stump. He asked his Mum, a musician, what they were and she had no idea. Together they decided that Nanna would know! And Miles certainly wanted to know. The beauty of mobile phone cameras these days! His Mum took a photo and sent it to me. I didn’t see this until later in the day and asked first if they had poked it, but they had decided not to touch it and were now too far away from the area to go back. I was intrigued. I asked to be taken to see it but we couldn’t find a time until two days later.
In the photos it sort of looked like a slime mould but had a blue-green-grey tinge and it was hard to be sure of the size, so I conferred with Laurton who also thought slime mould was possible. Two days later, Miles and his Dad came to show me, see if it was still there and what it would look like. Miles was able to retrace his steps and take me to the spot. Oh YES, it was certainly a slime mould. I showed Miles how when I poked it, it was quite firm but didn’t feel like wood, stone or plastic. I could cut it with my small penknife and we could see that it had white powder inside. I took lots of photos. I then rang our WA Slime mould expert Elaine Davison. She wanted me to collect some straight away for identification! Fortunately it’s not far, so back I went again.
Home again, looking up slime moulds, nothing seemed to fit. There was nothing like it in the Fungi of the Perth Region slime mould list. Lycogola epidendron, the Wolf’s milk slime mould, was the right shape and size but I’d only ever seen them pink, never bronzy gold.
Consulting with WA Mycologist Dr Neale Bougher who has been documenting the Fungi of Kings Park and Bold Park for the last 20 years, he was very interested and he too wanted to see for himself. So Miles and his Dad returned to show Neale what Miles had found. Neale told Miles he had spotted the Wolf’s Milk slime mould for the very first record in Kings Park. Miles thinks that’s a pretty amazing name.
We also spotted the black headed Varanus, high up a pole in the playground. Looked like just another one of the many wood carvings there – until it moved!
Observant small kids are always to be encouraged.