Drug developer Zhou Qingfeng examines mold on a rotten tree trunk in the mountains near Shanghai.

Fungus specialist attracts legions of online fans as she shines a light on life in the dark, Li Yingxue reports.

Slime. Mold. To most people, it is disgusting. Something to be avoided. Zhou Qingfeng is not most people. She looks at the constituent parts of slime and mold, what the uninitiated often refer to as fungus, and sees something beautiful, artistic, with pretty eye-catching shapes.

“Fungi are not difficult to find, as you can find them in the fallen leaves and rotten wood in your backyard,” says Zhou.

The 30-year-old, who is known as Yeweijun on microblogging platform Sina Weibo and has more than 840,000 followers, shares her videos of fungi and answers questions from members of the public.

Slime molds are Zhou’s current favorites as they are pretty, come in different shapes and grow rapidly. “Sphaerobolus, also known as cannonball fungus, looks like salted egg yolks, and pilobolus looks crystal clear even though it grows on cow dung,” Zhou explains.

Zhou is a drug developer in Shanghai. She chose to live in a suburban area so that her home has enough space for her to keep a dedicated room for a greenhouse to cultivate her fungi. Her home is not near the office and her daily commute takes three hours.