Jack O’Lanterns

Two Jack O’ Lanterns (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Happy Halloween!   It’s the day for pumpkin Jack O’ Lanterns.  Did you know there’s a mushroom by the same name?

On my bird walk in late September we found these jack o’ lantern mushrooms near the Schenley Park golf course.

Jack O’Lantern mushroom, Schenley Park, 30 Sept 2018 (photo by Kate St. John)

Jack O’ Lanterns (Omphalotus illudens) are common mushrooms east of the Rocky Mountains and are often found in urban settings.  Typical of their species, these were sprouting from an old stump.  Though they resemble edible chanterelles, jack o’ lanterns are poisonous and cause vomiting, cramps and diarrhea.  

Reference guides say that jack o’ lantern’s gills glow in the dark but this must be hard to see.  The Mushroom Expert says he’s wasted three hours of his life trying to see them glow without any success.

We found these mushrooms on 30 September and took a lot of photos. There were so many mushrooms!

On 1 October I walked past the stump and the mushrooms were gone.  Someone must have thought they were chanterelles, got greedy, took them all … and got sick.

Now that’s scary!

p.s.  It’s illegal to remove mushrooms from City parks, even for personal use.  Check the Western PA Mushroom Club’s Mushroom Picking Rules & Regulations in PA for places where it’s allowed.

(pumpkin photo from Wikimedia Commons; click on the caption to see the original. mushroom photo by Kate St. John)

2 thoughts on “Jack O’Lanterns

  1. I saw this type of mushroom growing in a yard in Peter’s Township. Quite a unique display! My first thought was that there must of been a tree that was removed from that yard a while ago because of the growth pattern.

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