Omphalotus olearius, commonly known as the jack-o'-lantern mushroom, is an orange- to yellow-gill mushroom that to an untrained eye appears similar to some chanterelles, and is most notable for its bioluminescent properties. It is usually found in woodland areas of North America, where it grows on decaying stumps, buried roots or at the base of hardwood trees.
Unlike the chanterelle, the jack-o'-lantern mushroom is poisonous. While not lethal, consuming this mushroom leads to very severe cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea. Complicating its toxicity is the fact that it smells and looks very appealing, to the extent that there are reports of repeat poisonings from individuals who were tempted to try them a second time.citation needed
The jack-o'-lantern mushroom's fruiting body (its stem and cap) is an orange color. Its bioluminescence, a blue-green color, is only observable in low light conditions when the eye becomes dark-adapted. The whole mushroom doesn't glow — only the gills do so. This is due to an enzyme, called luciferase, acting upon a compound called luciferin, leading to the emission of light much as fireflies do when glowing.
|gills on hymenium|
|cap is infundibuliform|
|hymenium is decurrent|
|stipe is bare|
|spore print is yellow|
|ecology is saprotrophic|
Unlike the chanterelles, the Jack-o'-lantern has true, sharp, non-forking gills; this is possibly the simplest trait for distinguishing between the two. Furthermore, if the Jack o'Lantern's stem is peeled, the inside is orange, while the chanterelle is a paler white on the inside stem.
The similarly poisonous mushroom Tsukiyotake (Omphalotus japonicus (Kawam.) Kirchm. & O.K. Mill., also known as Lampteromyces japonicus (Kawam.) Sing.), found in Japan and eastern Asia, emits light similar to that of the Jack o'Lantern mushroom and contains the same poison, illudin. It was confirmed in 2003 that Tsukiyotake is a relative of the Jack-o'-lantern mushroom. The poisonous Western Jack-o'-lantern mushroom (Omphalotus olivascens), abundant from southern to central California, is also similar to the chanterelle, but can be distinguished, as its flesh is never white.
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