(See Plate Facing Page 136)
Whether the slime fungi are plants or animals is a question not yet decided. They are living organisms which have no chlorophyll, or leaf-green, and which in their vegetative state resemble certain groups of the Protozoa, or unicellular animals, which live in water. In their manner of reproduction they show resemblances to certain fungi, and the spore cases or sporangia of some resemble tiny puffballs in form and mariner of ejecting their spores.
In the growing stage they consist of a naked mass of yellowish or whitish protoplasm, which creeps about in the dark, in accumulations of dead parts of plants, or under the bark of rotting stumps or logs. When a spore germinates, the membrane about it bursts, and a bit of naked and slimy protoplasm escapes. This tiny mass creeps about, absorbing food from its surroundings, and increasing in size until it may perhaps cover an area of many inches. After a time spores begin to form, then either the whole mass is transformed into a single spore case or a number of spore cases are formed. The spore cases of Lycogala epidendron are pretty things, resembling pink coral beads. When fresh, a case is filled with a thin pink paste; but when mature, with fine brown dust-like spores. When the spore case bursts, these spores escape, and if they fall in favourable places the life cycle begins anew.
Myx'-o-my-ce'-tes Pro-to-zo'-a Ly-cog'-a-la Ep-I-den'-dron
(Panus strigostis, B. & C; Lentinus strigosus) Cap, gills, and stem creamy. See Genus, p. 67