Jack o’ Lantern?

Mail from Ian Bushell:

I have attached a couple of pictures of fungi – no idea what they are – looking in my various reference books I just got more and more confused.  They are at the base of the dead sweet chestnut tree just behind the entrance oak leading up to the Arboretum on the other side of the bark chippings. Ian

Wikipedia suggests that orange fungus growing on dead wood might be this:

Omphalotus olearius, commonly known as the jack-o’-lantern mushroom. It is found in woodland areas in Europe, where it grows on decaying stumps, on buried roots or at the base of hardwood trees.

Photographs of fungi by Ian Bushell

If it is a Jack o’ Lantern mushroom it will be bioluminescent and its gills should produce a blue-green glow in the dark. Originally Jack o’ Lantern was the 18th century name given to hollowed out root vegetables, turnips and swedes, lit with candles, that were displayed outside homes on All Souls Night to ward off evil spirits; the forerunner of the modern Hallowe’en pumpkin.

So if there is anybody out and about in the park in the dark this Hallowe’en, have a look at the fungus at the base of the dead sweet chestnut tree just behind the oak tree at the park’s entrance. If it glows blue-green it’s Omphalotus olearius; if it doesn’t, we don’t know what it is.

On the other hand, if you can identify the fungus with any degree of authority email us at friendsofscp@outlook.com


We really do need the help of a mycologist to identify the park’s fungi. The more research tells us about the complex symbiotic relationships between fungi and other organisms, the more FoSCP regrets its ignorance. If there is anybody out there who can help, please do contact us.


Here is a fungus we can identify:

2 thoughts on “Jack o’ Lantern?

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  1. I’ve forwarded a copy of this post to my brother, who’s into fungi, and asked if he or his son who’s an ecologist can identify this fungi for you.

    1. Barbara, that’s great; thank you. Our ignorance weighs heavily on us at this time of year; we can do invertebrates, botany, trees and birds but none of us knows anything really about fungi. Even our Tree Officer only knows the ones that grow on trees.

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