Friday, September 4, 2009

Jack-o-lantern

I feel that I must atone for the stinkhorn of the previous post; thus here we have a really great looking fungus.

A massive growth of the Jack-o-lantern, Omphalotus illudens. This cluster was growing on dead wood on a steep bank, and so conspicuous that everyone that passed by the spot reported on it.

Jack-o-lanterns allegedly bioluminesce, or glow in the dark. Hmmm... Not sure I buy that. Everyone says that they do, but I've not yet seen it. During a nocturnal foray, we went by this clump and... nothing. Not so much as a meager flicker. Burned out light bulbs glow brighter than this mushroom did.

Even if Jack-o-lanterns don't really glow in the dark, they are still very beautiful fungi. The feathery-edged caps are a spectacular orangish-yellow tint, and the overall robustness of the organism is sure to attract the eye.

Jacks do resemble edible Chanterelle mushrooms, and more than a few folks have been fooled into eating bits of Omphalotus. Mistake. You won't die, but be prepared to spend some time hugging the porcelain throne, and enjoying fits of diarrhea and painful stomach cramps.

But the bugs love these things. Jack-o-lanterns emit an agreeable odor, and I was astonished at the number of insects that were swarming the caps, presumably lured by the aroma.

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4 comments:

Tom said...

Nice make-up post, Jim- I've never seen any bio luminescent fungi in the U.S., but I did in Australia- in a sub-tropical rainforest at Lamington National Park. It was perhaps one of the coolest things I've ever seen. This would be great again to see and photograph here in Ohio, let me know if you find any luminescent jack-o-lanterns. I'm a believer.

Tom

Bob Scott said...

Actually I've taken chunks of jack-o-lantern into my windowless bathroom, turned out the light, and waited. Eventually you'll see a green glow. But when and where is it ever that dark outside anymore?

HeronGirl said...

Very beautiful fungi!

Wil said...

Great shots. Is that the clump from Shawnee? I never did get back there to get some pics. We also tried to see if it glowed...nothing, even though it was dark and the fungus well protected from the little light that was there. It sure would be cool to see some bio-luminecent fungi. Thanks for the great post.
Wil