Question: I found this “thing” under my Joshua tree this morning. It is about 6 inches long. Is it mold? I water only three times a week for five minutes.
I get pictures of these things once or twice a year, usually in the spring when it is cooler, there has been rain and there is plenty of rotting organic matter for it to feed on. This is called a slime mold, and it kind of resembles vomit. At least, that is how some others have described it to me.
They can range in color from yellow to orange and are loosely related to mushrooms. Like mushrooms, they are decomposers and feed off of decaying organic matter such as wood mulch or organic matter left in the soil at planting time. We see them in the orchard a lot, feeding off of decaying wood mulch.
No treatment is necessary. It is a good guy because it breaks down woody debris and does not attack living plants. If you want to be an industrialist, destroy it with the back of a rake and rake it into the mulch and soil.
It will probably come back at some time. I will post pictures of some on my blog.
Bob Morris is a professor emeritus in horticulture with the University of Nevada and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit his blog at xtremehorticulture.blogspot.com. For more advice, check the Home section of Thursday’s Las Vegas Review-Journal.