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Has anybody ever heard of Mare's Eggs?

According to James, they're a type of weird rare algae that grows in three spots in Oregon where the water never changes temperature more than three degrees and forms large balls that are called, poetically if inaccurately, "mare's eggs."

We can find no photos and very limited on-line resources--enough to show that he's evidentally not hallucinating, but not enough to show me what one looks like.

Given the way my LJ seems to work, however, I would be totally unsurprised to find that one of my readers has, in fact, done their doctoral thesis on it, keeps one as a pet, and wants to commission art of the Mare's Egg Totem, so I figured I'd toss it out there and see if anybody else has heard of 'em.

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They're apparently a type of cyanobacteria. And edible.

from: http://waynesword.palomar.edu/cyano1.htm
"Nostoc "balls" along the shore of a desiccated vernal pool in the Santa Rosa Plateau of Riverside County, California. Each gelatinous ball is composed of an aggregation of numerous filaments of cyanobacteria, each with bead-like strands of prokaryotic cells and heterocysts. Members of the genus Nostoc have been referred to as "star jelly," "witches' butter," and "mare's eggs." Balls of N. commune in wet meadows can be the size of a baseball. Dried Nostoc balls are sold in Asian markets. According to S. Facciola (Cornucopia II: A Sourcebook of Edible Plants, 1998) they are stir-fried, sautéed with oysters, and used in soups and as thickeners for other foods."

Wow. That's 'em. You guys are amazing.

Members of the genus Nostoc have been referred to as "star jelly," "witches' butter," and "mare's eggs."

If I say I'm not sure whether to believe in these, does that make me agnostoc?


I've heard of them in aquarium magazines, but have never heard them referred to as "Mare's Eggs". Apparently, some people like to keep them, for the oddities they are... though I don't know as if they do anything for water quality.

Try looking under aquarium links?

I found this: http://www.aquariumplants.com/cgi-bin/cart/mi268.html

Good lord. Those are them, allright. Be damned.

I want one! They look so cool!

>>adds to mental list for future aquarium<<

Same thing any algae does for an aquarium: metabolize nitrates and convert them into growth.

Yes, but apparently theyre a pain to keep clean.. you need to 'palpate' and rinse them frequently, as they will eventually suffocate under normal aquarium conditions (they attract mulm, which is normally removed by natural agitation in their natural environment-- or somesuch... it's been a while since I read the article..)

Hrm. I keep coral, which need an oscillating back-and-forth current so food gets carried in, trapped, digested, then the reversed current carries waste out. In stagnant water coral suffocates and sickens in the toxins of its own waste before it can starve from lack of feeding. Sounds like someone wanting to keep one of these would do well to use a wavemaker or dump-tank to provide chaotic currents.

hmmm... hundred year old balls....

Breeding the algae balls in right condition, one can hand over a couple of generations from grandparents to a grandson, working as a medium of family love.

Its like a horrible demented version of bonsai trees. "hey son, do you want to help me keep the water temperature of this tank exactly __ so these hundred+ year old balls of algae dont die and shame your ancestors... no? are you sure... cake may be involved... Great!"

I've never heard of them under the name mare's eggs before, but ball-forming fungi and algae and stuff are the most common scientific explanation given for Fortean "gelatinous meteors"-- blobs of smelly, slimy stuff that are attested around the world and throughout history for falling as stars and then melting away in the light of the sun.

It's probably not all that relevant to your question. But I fell in love with the Welsh name for them, 'pwdre ser', rot-of-the-stars. And yes, if I weren't totally broke, I would *so* commission a painting of a pwdre ser totem, I've wanted one for years.

falling as stars and then melting away in the light of the sun

that's way more nifty and romantic than I thought history would be able to attest to a ball of algae goo. =] Thanks for sharing!

Curious things. I wonder if 'Mares Eggs' evolved from 'mer eggs.' That would seem a likely origin. Sea eggs, basically.

Far too logical! Logic and linguistics just don't belong together. *grin*

There are actually fairy tales about some simpleton thinking a pumpkin is a mare's egg--I'd wonder if that had anything to do with it.

Speaking of totems, I seem to recall one called a Marestane, or something like that. Basically a smooth river stone that was worn to ward of witches riding demonic horses or some such. Hrm

There is a legend regarding stones smoothed and bored with water offer protection from evil spirits. I have one that belonged to my grandmother. But they have to have a naturally occuring hole through them, not just any smooth river stone.

That'd be them, I think. I remember the part about the hole, which is what made them rare.

On a related note, one of the Boy Scout camps I used to frequent when I was younger had a feature hidden back in the woods, which we called 'Indian wells'. They were pits in the rock in or next to creeks and streams, which we were told were made by someone boring a hole an inch or two deep and wide in the rock. Hollow reeds and sand were used in this. It would take a while, but then after a few years the holes would become larger wells due to erosion, and passers-by could scoop a handful or a skinful of water from them.

I'd feel sorry for the mare that laid cinderella's pumpkin. poor poor Horseykins...

So now waiting to paint you have them hatching open and water horses (fresh water version of sea horses) pop out. Cutely.


Baby water horsies!!!

Ahem. *adds vote*

I have my doubts that art is democratic, but I'll throw my vote in for the hell of it.

heh. You just freaked me out.
See icon.
My chicken (one of them)
Mare = me!
No one here eats MY chicken's eggs but me (they all came from a chicken IN THE YARD, so somehow, they are freaky-eggs and Not.Good.

(they are SO, but that's besides the point)

So we have two bins in the fridge...
Good Eggs From the Store
Mare's Eggs.


As far as tha algae thing, wish I could help...hopefully someone will post something about it, sounds interesting!

OMG OMG OMG...thats my totem...! Now I *must* save the money to commission you.

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