Omphalotus olearius (The Jack O'Lantern Mushroom)

Other Facts


There are so many Jack O’Lanterns everywhere! Lets meet them all…  

Who isn’t a little embarrassed of their family at some point? Well even your crazy Aunt Margie doesn’t compare to the obscurity of the relatives possessed by Omphalotus olearius. The Genus of Omphalotus describes the individuals whom are the flashlights of our forests. The bioluminescence of these unique fungi is a trait that cannot be easily ignored. The colors and shapes of the mushrooms range widely within this genus. When looking at the different species, this unifying trait may appear to be the only trait they share. Their genes assure us that they are related, but they do posses other similarities as well. (Antelo et al. 2009) All of the Omphalotus mushrooms are poisonous if ingested. In addition, they are all found to grow on hardwood trees.

 Look at the pictures below to see just how different they look.      



And what is a Jack O’Lantern website without some real Halloween Jack O’Lanterns?

Jack Jack O'Lanterns have been appearing around the world since the 1660's. There has been argument as to their original purpose. Some think that they were originally meant to keep harmful spirits out, while others believe that they existed to simply represent spirits. Despite the argument, one fact remains... Jack O'Lanterns are a symbolic and fun tradition upheld all over the world. View some cool Jack O'Lanterns below!

Originally, Jack O'Lanterns were sculpted from turnips. While some people partake in the traditional method, as shown in the carvings to the right, most people use pumpkins as their sculpting material of choice! With so many venues for creativity, pumpkin carving has become a source of expressin for some. My personal favorite Jack O'Lantern, however, is the good ol' cookie. Yumm!



Bioluminescence... It's not only for Jack O'Lantern Mushrooms!

Bioluminescence is rare in the animal kingdom, BUT it is out there. Another organism that is known to have bioluminescent properties is fireflies. The chemical used to achieve this in both fireflies and the Omphalotus mushrooms is luciferase. The reason for the production is different however. Fireflies bioluminescence for many reasons, the main one being reproduction. (Ye et al. 1997)

Watch the video I created below to hear a wonderful love story about these two organisms! Enjoy.


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