Omphalotus illudens

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Omphalotus illudens
Omphalotus illudens 78007.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Fungi
Division: Basidiomycota
Class: Agaricomycetes
Order: Agaricales
Family: Marasmiaceae
Genus: Omphalotus
Species: O. illudens
Binomial name
Omphalotus illudens
(Schwein.) Bresinsky & Besl
Omphalotus illudens
View the Mycomorphbox template that generates the following list
Mycological characteristics
gills on hymenium
cap is infundibuliform
hymenium is decurrent
stipe is bare
spore print is yellow
ecology is saprotrophic
edibility: poisonous

Omphalotus illudens is commonly called the jack-o'lantern mushroom. It is a large orange mushroom that is often found in clumps on decaying stumps, buried roots or at the base of hardwood trees in eastern North America. Nearly all field guides claim its gills often exhibit a weak green bioluminescence when fresh, however some dispute this entirely as a myth.[1]

Omphalotus illudens is sometimes confused with edible chanterelles, but is poisonous to humans when eaten, whether raw or cooked, and typically causes vomiting, cramps, and diarrhea. Although some older literature claims the name is synonymous with Omphalotus olearius, phylogenetic analysis confirms they are distinct species.[2]


The poisonous chemical compounds illudin S and illudin M were isolated from Omphalotus illudens.[3][4] In addition to their antibacterial and antifungal effects, illudins appear to be the cause of human toxicity when these mushrooms are eaten raw or cooked. Muscarine has also been indirectly implicated in toxicity,[5] but modern studies to demonstrate its presence in O. illudens are needed.

The cytotoxic effect of illudin is of interest for treating some cancers, but illudin itself is too poisonous to use directly so it must first be chemically modified. Inside human cells, illudin S reacts with DNA and creates a type of DNA damage that blocks transcription. This block can only be relieved by a repair system called nucleotide excision repair. Damage in non-transcribed DNA areas is left unrepaired by the cell. This property was exploited by the company MGI Pharma to develop an illudin-derivative called Irofulven for use as a cancer treatment. Its application is still in the experimental phase.[citation needed]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kuo, Michael (May 2015). ""Omphalotus illudens"". Retrieved 2018-09-01.
  2. ^ Kirchmair M, Morandell S, Stolz D, Pöder R, Sturmbauer C (2004). "Phylogeny of the genus Omphalotus based on nuclear ribosomal DNA-sequences" (PDF). Mycologia. 96 (6): 1253–60. doi:10.2307/3762142. JSTOR 3762142. PMID 21148949. Retrieved 2010-05-26.
  3. ^ Anchel, M.; Herbey, A.; Robbins, W.J. (1950). "Antibiotic Substances from Basidiomycetes: VII. Clitocybe illudens". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 36 (5): 300–305. doi:10.1073/pnas.36.5.300. PMC 1063187.
  4. ^ McMorris, T. C.; Kelner, M. J.; Wang, W.; Estes, L. A.; Montoya, M. A.; Taetle, R. (1992). "Structure-Activity Relationship of Illudins : Analogs with Improved Therapeutic Index". Journal of Organic Chemistry. 57 (25): 6876–6883. doi:10.1021/jo00051a037.
  5. ^ Clark, Ernest D.; Smith, Clayton S. (1913). "Toxicological Studies on the Mushrooms Clitocybe illudens and Inocybe infida". Mycologia. 5 (4): 224–232. doi:10.2307/3753387. JSTOR 3753387.