Slime mold guessers are right! This is a slime mold — aptly-named “Dog Vomit Slime Mold” (Fuligo septica). Slime molds are not plants, animals, fungi or bacteria. This stage of a slime mold’s life cycle is called a plasmodium, which is essentially one giant cell with millions of nuclei. The plasmodium moves by slowly flowing over the ground, gradually engulfing and consuming fungi and bacteria that are present on decaying plant matter. You often find it on mulch that is regularly watered. Dog Vomit Slime Mold is harmless to people, pets and plants. In fact, it is actually edible. In some parts of Mexico people scramble it like eggs (and call it “caca de luna”).
4-11-12 Field Horsetail – Equisetum arvense
Look for this perennial non-flowering plant by the side of the road, where its fertile stalks are starting to poke up through the soil. A relative of ferns, horsetail reproduces by means of spores which are located in the cone-like structure at the tip of the fertile stalk. The green, bristly vegetative stalks that give this plant its common name will soon appear. Horsetail’s use as an herbal remedy dates back to ancient Roman and Greek medicine. It was used traditionally to stop bleeding, heal ulcers and wounds, and treat tuberculosis and kidney problems. Because of the silica in this plant, horesetail is used today by organic farmers to rid soil of the effect of excess moisture that promotes the growth of fungi. Relatively recently horsetail has been suggested as a treatment for osteoporosis, also because of the silica it contains, a mineral needed for bone health.
Dog-tooth lichen (Peltigera canina) is often found growing on lawns and rocks. Like all lichens, it consists of an alga or cyanobacterium and a fungus living together in a symbiotic relationship. The fungus provides a structure for taking up moisture and nutrients; the alga or cyanobacterium is capable of photosynthesizing and producing food for both itself and the fungus. The brown structures in the photograph are the fruiting (spore-producing) bodies of this lichen, and their resemblance to dog teeth gives this lichen its common name. In the Middle Ages, dog-tooth lichen was used to treat rabies — it was felt at the time that this lichen’s resemblance to dog teeth indicated that it could cure dog-related ailments.
The Chanterelle family of fungi includes some of the best known edible wild mushrooms. The chanterelle pictured, Cantharellus cibarius, is considered a delicacy, but there are poisonous mushrooms that look very much like this chanterelle, so you should only consume one if someone you trust has identified it. Most chanterelles are either convex or vase-shaped, and instead of true gills, these mushrooms often produce spores on ridges or folds. Most chanterelles grow on the ground and appear at this time of year.