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Aussie gardener stunned as bizarre black 'eggs' show up overnight

It's reminiscent of an expensive delicacy – but the strange substance has been revealed to be something very different.

An Aussie gardener has stumbled across a strange but seemingly lucrative sight. The confused green thumb found what looked like caviar covering the base and stem of their strawberry plant on Wednesday.

The suspicious black growth "showed up overnight" after days of rain and humid weather. "Seemingly eggs?" the Melbourne resident asked online. "Can anyone help identify?"

Close up image of the black, caviar-like organism that is likely a species slime mould.
The caviar-like organism is likely a species of slime mould. Source: Reddit

Despite looking like the expensive fish egg delicacy, this bizarre substance is actually likely to be a type of slime mould, according to mycologist and medicinal chemist Dr Kylie Agnew-Francis. "It [looks] to me like lindbladia tubulina," she told Yahoo News Australia. "There are some sightings of this species down that way, so I’d be reasonably confident in that ID".

Not much is known about this strange organism

Agnew-Francis explains how little we know about fungi and slime moulds. Due to this, it's hard to say if this particular species is properly confirmed as occurring in Australia. "I don’t know if the species is confirmed in Australia, and I couldn’t see any literature saying otherwise, though it is common elsewhere," she said.

Nevertheless, there have been reports of lindbladia tubulina sightings from citizen scientists across the country on iNaturalist and other websites so it is not surprising to find it in Melbourne.

Websites like iNaturalist allow both scientists and everyday people to record the living things they find, which Agnew-Francis says is something she encourages everyone to do. "It provides a good resource to help map our biodiversity, especially for things like fungi and slime mould where there is little to no recorded information on what we have".

Do you have a story about something in your garden? Contact reporter Laura Koefoed at laura.koefoed@yahooinc.com

Images of the black, caviar-like slime mould climbing up the strawberry plant.
Little is known about slime mould to this day. Source: Reddit

What exactly is slime mould?

Slime moulds are a type of amoeba — which is a big single-celled organism — and are considered neither plant nor animal.

There are over 900 species and they feed mainly on dead or decomposing material rather than live plants so are said to be beneficial for gardens and a good indication of soil health.

Is slime mould dangerous?

Slime moulds are not known to be a danger to humans or our pets, though there is still limited information available on their toxicity.

"Some compounds from lindbladia tubulina have anti-microbial activity and at least one has moderate anti-cancer activity, but I couldn’t see any reports claiming these compounds or extracts from this species were toxic (or in high enough concentration to matter)," Agnew-Francis reveals.

And for our beloved plants, though it's hard to say specifically for this species, slime moulds are generally not directly harmful to the plants they attach themselves to as they are just "using it as support".

"If it isn’t covering all of the leaves then I doubt there will be any long-term harm. They come and go very quickly".

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