Scientific name: Hemitrichia serpula (Scop.) Rostaf.
Derivation of name: Serpula means "a little snake."
Synonyms: Mucor serpula Scop.; Arcyria serpula
Common name(s): Pretzel slime.
Occurrence on wood substrate: Whitish to yellowish
plasmodium and mustard-yellow plasmodiocarp appears
on dead wood,
leaves, and plant
litter; June through
Dimensions: Network of veins and resultant spore-
can cover many
Description: When mature, occurring as pretzel-like
network of bright yellow to mustard yellow veins or
strands. The outer walls break down, revealing a cottony,
mustard-yellow spore mass.
Comments: Although many slime mold species fruit on
wood they do not form a penetrating and absorptive mass
of hyphae in the wood substrate. Rather, slime molds form
structures called plasmodia which are naked (i.e., without
cell walls) masses of protoplasm which can move and
particles of food in an amoeboid manner. Slime
plasmodia creep about over the surfaces of materials,
engulfing bacteria, spores of fungi and plants, protozoa, and
particles of nonliving organic matter. At some point,
plasmodia convert into spore-bearing structures.
In Hemitrichia, the plasmodium forms a plasmodiocarp
fruit body where the spore-forming structure retains the
shape of the main veins of the plasmodium.
More information at TomVolkFungi:
Figure 1. Typical appearance of Hemitrichia serpula on
Photo © Dorothy Smullen.
Figure 2. The interconnnected strands of the plasmodium
mature in place to form the pretzel-like plasmodiocarp.
Photo © John Plischke III.
Figure 3. A relatively small plasmodiocarp.
Figure 4. The disrupted wall of a strand of plasmodiocarp
at the upper left
the cottony, mustard yellow spore