Jack O’Lantern

MARASMIUS (Marasmiaceae)

This mushroom is a brilliant orange color during the day and its gills are bioluminescent at night. It can range from 2-8 inches wide. The gills are crowded and run down the stem. Its stalk is orange and can range from about 3 to 10 inches long.

It has a clustered growth habit at the bases of trees and stumps during the fall. It is widely distributed east of the Rockies. It is occasionally found at Fontenelle Forest in forested areas in the fall. This photograph was taken off the second loop of the boardwalk.

This mushroom can cause mild to severe gastrointestinal poisoning if eaten. It resembles one of the chanterelle mushrooms which are edible. Handling the mushroom will result in orange staining of the hands. 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.

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