Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Omphalotus illudens, "Jack-o'-lantern" mushroom

Got another call from a pal on the Mushroom Hotline, this time about these orange mushrooms that show up every fall on the side of his house.

If these are a bright pumpkin orange, your monitor is calibrated right.

See the little crab spider?

These are one of the few mushrooms that chanterelles can be confused with, because of the color, and the slightly decurrent gills.

These supposedly glow in the dark, but I hear it's nothing Earth-shaking, and not easy to see. I haven't tried it yet (collecting them in a damp paper towel, then locking yourself in a pitch-dark closet and sitting there for half an hour until your eyes adjust, to see a faint green glow). I'm trying to pick my battles.

You'd have to be in a pretty big hurry to confuse them with chanterelles, but to a neophyte, it can happen easily (see link, further down). But these always grow in tight clusters, and they have true gills, and they don't have that nice sweet aroma like chanterelles (fruity, like apricots), they have a silky fibrousness to the cap surface, and they're always on wood, even if you can't see it because it's the leftover underground root of a dead, long-gone tree...just don't try to talk yourself into the ID, take your time, and maybe you won't poison yourself. Or don't start collecting and eating mushrooms until you've got somebody with some experience to hold your hand. I've been at this with a vengeance for a year now, and I'm seeing all the bonehead beginner ID mistakes I made earlier, let alone recently. So my fear has actually increased with time, as far as collecting edible mushrooms. I don't know if I'll ever move past the few I currently have on my "I ate these" list. Too scared!

But, never mind all that, just look at them! They're COOL! Whether you know their name or not!


  1. I saw a big patch of old ones today...

  2. arrghh-I'm in mushroom heaven.Your photos are stunning.Do you use a macro lens?

  3. It's a point-and-shoot with a macro SETTING, a Sony DSC-H3.

    I think the key is to pay attention to what's actually in your viewfinder, by refusing to be distracted, and to LOVE YOUR SUBJECT. I LOVE these things.

    See "The Photos", a static page at top of blog, for more useless information!

  4. I'm not sure but I THINK maybe I've found some Omphalotus illudens or "Jack-o'-lantern" mushrooms. I wish I could post a photo!

  5. These are a late-summer/fall mushroom in Missouri, check when they're supposed to show up wherever you found them.
    You can send a photo via mycologistablog (at) gmail.com if you like!