Jack-O'Lantern
Omphalotus olearius
Russulaceae (Russula) Mushroom Family


.The name Jack-O'Lantern is derived from the color of the mushroom; not the shape or plant habit. The cap is broad and ragged in appearance, convex to flat, and usually depressed in the center. The color is bright orange to polished yellow. The cap margins are enrolled, and the gills are attached and extend down the stalk. The entire plant is luminescent, and is often confused with what night hunters called "fox fire."  Its preferred habitat is at the base of hardwood stumps or emerging from buried roots. The plant has an unpleasant odor. Spores occur in the spring and autumn.

The old name in most books is Clitocybe illudens. The luminescence of the gills will often last 40-50 hours after collecting. Luminescence may be seen after sitting in the dark facing the gills for about 2-4 minutes and is usually bright enough to enable one to see each gill clearly. If it does not luminesce, wrap in wax paper, place indoors, and repeat the test in 2-3 hours. This feature combined with the orange color and growth in cespitose clusters on wood distinguishes this fungus from all others. It is a poisonous species but the toxins are unknown. It should be avoided because of this unknown property.

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