Glowing mushroom in Ohsweken

SIX NATIONS – A post cited by Dan Werner to the Kayanase Facebook page on Wednesday, August 23, explained a unique phenomenon on the front lawn of the Ohsweken Pharmasave.

A “large cluster” of orange coloured mushrooms bloomed near the entrance to the parking lot near the base of one of the larger trees. The fungi cluster is scientifically dubbed Omphalotus Olearius and are commonly known as Jack-O-Lantern mushrooms. These mushrooms are both poisonous when eaten and exhibit one of the rarest features in fungi – bioluminescence.

Reports of glowing mushrooms throughout history make it seem that the awe felt when seeing a glowing fungus has been ongoing. Aristotle (384-322 B.C..) reported a light that was distinct from fire and emanated from decaying wood, just as a Dutch consul gave accounts of Indonesian peoples using glowing fungus to illuminate pathways in forests.

But, out of 100,000 species of fungi, only 71 of them offer the glow that the Jack-O-Lantern mushroom provides. Majority of the 71 species are found in tropical climates, but it is yet to be proven as to why these mushrooms glow at all.

This makes the glowing fungi families all more intriguing. But scientists have come to know that bioluminescence does provide some antioxidant protection to the fungus, and the light also attracts insects, which may help in spore dispersal.

However, the Jack-O-Lantern mushroom is commonly confused with both the sulphur mushroom (Laetiporus sulphureus) and the chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius). In contrast, the sulphur mushroom has a smooth surface that is scattered with microscopic pores, and the chanterelle grows scattered singly on the ground and has a thicker flesh than the Jack-O-Lantern mushroom.

Needless to say, when in doubt consult a fungi expert, or wait until nightfall to see if the fungi glows.

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