Omphalotus olearius

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Omphalotus olearius
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Fungi
Division: Basidiomycota
Class: Agaricomycetes
Order: Agaricales
Family: Omphalotaceae
Genus: Omphalotus
O. olearius
Binomial name
Omphalotus olearius
(DC.) Sing. (1948)
  • Agaricus olearius DC. (1815)
  • Agaricus olearius subsp. phosphoreus Battarra ex Pers. (1828)
  • Dryophila phosphorea (Battarra ex Pers.) Quél. (1888)
  • Clitocybe olearia (DC.) Maire (1933)
  • Clitocybe phosphorea (Battarra ex Pers.) Bohus (1957)
Omphalotus olearus from South Africa

Omphalotus olearius,[2] commonly known as the jack-o'-lantern mushroom, is a poisonous orange gilled mushroom that to an untrained eye appears similar to some chanterelles. It is notable for its bioluminescent properties. It is found in woodland areas in Europe, where it grows on decaying stumps, on buried roots or at the base of hardwood trees. It has also been reported from the Western Cape Province, South Africa. A similar, but phylogenetically distinct[3] species found in eastern North America is Omphalotus illudens.

Unlike chanterelles, Omphalotus olearius and other Omphalotus species contain the toxin illudin S, and are poisonous to humans. While not lethal, consuming this mushroom leads to very severe cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea.


The jack-o'-lantern mushroom is orange. Its bioluminescence, a blue-green color, can be observed in fresh specimens in low light conditions once the eye becomes dark-adapted. The whole mushroom does not 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.[4]

Omphalotus olearius
View the Mycomorphbox template that generates the following list
Gills on hymenium
Cap is infundibuliform
Hymenium is decurrent
Stipe is bare
Spore print is yellow
Ecology is saprotrophic
Edibility is poisonous

Similar species[edit]

Unlike chanterelles, jack-o'-lantern mushrooms have 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 paler inside the stem.

Omphalotus illudens of eastern North America, and the Western jack-o'-lantern mushroom Omphalotus olivascens common in southern to central California, are both poisonous. The similarly poisonous mushroom Tsukiyotake (Omphalotus japonicus, formerly known as Lampteromyces japonicus, found in Japan and eastern Asia, is also bioluminescent and contains the same poison, illudin.[3]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Synonymy: Omphalotus olearius (DC.) Singer". Species Fungorum. CAB International. Retrieved 2015-09-24.
  2. ^ Singer R (1948) In: Pap. Mich. Acad. Sci. 32: 133 ('1946').
  3. ^ a b 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.
  4. ^ Oliveira AG, Desjardin DE, Perry BA, Stevani CV (2012). "Evidence that a single bioluminescent system is shared by all known bioluminescent fungal lineages". Photochemical and Photobiological Sciences. 11 (5): 848–852. doi:10.1039/c2pp25032b. PMID 22495263.

External links[edit]