Identifying mold is an essential tool in knowing what type of mold is growing in an outdoor or indoor setting.  A benefit of knowing what type of mold is present in a home is knowing whether it is toxic or not.  Mold can be seen growing in colonies.  Each mold colony has distinct characteristics such as color, texture, shape that separate them.  Colors of mold colonies can range from white to black.  Mold can be seen growing in all types of places such as:  under sinks, walls, curtains, A/C ducts, etc.

Identifying MoldsIdentifying mold in homes is a simple task if you know what to look for. In homes, Cladosporium can be observed as an olive green, brown, or sometimes even black colony.  Cladosporium can also be found on other indoor resources such as: damp construction materials, paints, wood, and moist insulation inside of cooling systems.  As an indoor mold it is more commonly found on floors, mattresses, rugs, and damp or possibly water damaged walls. Penicillium is another type of indoor mold that is commonly found.  Penicillium is often found growing indoors on water damaged materials such as wallpaper, carpet, and plywood. When looking for Penicillium growth on food, it can be observed as a bluish mold growing on possibly fruit, bread, or cheese.

Common outdoor molds can be seen growing in indoor settings such as homes, buildings, etc.  Identifying molds that commonly grow outside can be interesting being that they have very distinct and sometimes vibrant colors. Epicoccum is a known plant pathogen and which grows well on plants that have been damaged or have damaged areas.  Epicoccum colonies range in color from bright red, yellow, orange, and brown.  Alternaria is a common outdoor mold that can be found growing in the environment.  Colonies of Alternaria can be observed as green, gray, or black thick growth.  This common outdoor mold is also known to be a plant pathogen.  Bipolaris is a common outdoor mold that thrives in decaying plant matter.  Bipolaris is also known as a plant pathogen that grows on grasses.  As a colony of Bipolaris grows and matures the color ranges from a dark olive green to black.

Water damage indicator molds can be tricky in identifying molds that are observed.  Some of these molds are usually dark in color when it grows into a mature colony. Chaetomium colonies are rapidly growing, cottony and white in color initially. When the colony matures they can become grey to olive in color. They can appear to go from tan to red, or brown to black. Fruiting structures often grow on compost.  Trichoderma form colonies of mold that start out transparent, becoming white to yellowish over time. When the mold matures and starts to produce spores, it darkens becoming green to gray. Some species of Trichoderma have a distinctive sweet scent which is often compared to that of coconuts. Colonies are fast growing, and typically mature within five days. In homes, Stachybotrys can be observed as a very dark green or black growth.  Stachybotrys grows well on surfaces that are high in fiber content (cellulose) as a constant nutrient source.  Wallpaper, wood, ceiling tiles and carpet are some common places where Stachybotrys is seen growing.

Identifying mold can be a very fun experience for the curious person looking to explore the world of microbial growth.  It is also beneficial in identifying which molds are toxic or non-toxic.  Mold identification is definitely a great device in learning about mold.


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