Scientific name: Lycogala epidendrum (L.) Fr.
Derivation of name: Epidendrum means "on wood" in
reference to its typical habitat.
Synonyms: Lycoperdon epidendrum L.
Common name(s): Wolf's milk slime; Toothpaste slime.
Occurrence on wood substrate: Saprobic; scattered to
clustered on well-rotted wood; June through November.
Dimensions: This slime mold forms fruit bodies 3-15 mm
Description: The globose to subglobose or compressed
fruitbodies of Lycogala epidendrum are at first pinkish-gray
to bright cinnabar-red when young. At this stage the flesh is
pinkish, paste-like substance (like toothpaste?). With
the fruit body becomes yellow-brown or olive-
brown and the
spore mass becomes powdery and pinkish-
gray to ochre in
Comments: Although many slime mold species fruit on
slime molds do not form a penetrating and absorptive
the wood substrate. Rather, slime molds
plasmodia which are naked
(i.e., without cell
walls) masses of
protoplasm which can
move and engulf
particles of food in an
plasmodia creep about over the
bacteria, spores of fungi and
protozoa, and particles of
nonliving organic matter. At
point, plasmodia convert
Lycogala, the plasmodium
converts into a
hemispherical mass of spores
enclosed by an outer wall
called a peridium. This structure is
called an aethalium
More information at MidwestNaturalist.com
Figure 1. This log supports a typical fruiting of Lycogala
epidendrum. The globose to
aethalia which developed from a
plasmodia. Photo © Gary Emberger.
Figure 2. Pinkish-gray younger specimens. The finely
textured surface is typical of Lycogala
Photo © William Roody.
Figure 3. A pinkish fluid oozes from a broken peridium.
This fluid becomes progressively more pastelike as it matures
into a dry mass of spores. Photo © Gary Emberger.
Figure 4. A specimen with a particularly intense pinkish-red
coloration. These aethalia are probably newly formed from
plasmodia. The plasmodium of Lycogala epidendrum is
reported to be reddish or coral red in color. Photo © Gary
Figure 5. The wet, sticky nature of the flesh inside is
it clings to the tip of the small stick used to break
open the peridium. Photo © Gary Emberger.
Figure 6. Maturing specimens of Lycogala epidendrum.
Photo © Fred Habegger.
Figure 7. Maturing specimen with a violet colored
spore mass. Photo © Gary Emberger.
Figure 8. At maturity, the coloration of the outside and inside
is quite different. In addition, the spore mass is dry and
powdery. Photo © Gary Emberger.
Figure 9. Steve Nelsen provided this photograph of
Lycogala flavofuscum which resembles L. epidendrum
but which is larger (2 cm or more in diameter), has a
thicker, nearly smooth peridium, occurs on living as well
as dead wood, and is not nearly as common.
Photo © Steve Nelsen.