Omphalotus olearius, 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.
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's fruiting body (its stem and cap) is an orange color. It grows from late summer into November, in large clumps on or near tree stumps. However, it can also be found growing on the ground (along buried roots) nearby. Underneath the cap is its well-known glowing color, which glows in a lime green color. The whole mushroom does not glow—only the gills do so.
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.
Images for kids
Jack o'lantern mushroom Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.