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Glow in the Dark Mushrooms: Ghost Mushrooms, Jack-o’-Lantern and Moon Night Mushrooms

Mushrooms That Glow In The Dark Identified Ghost Mushrooms

Mushrooms that glow in the dark like ghost mushrooms? This might sound like something out of a science fiction novel, but glowing mushrooms exist in real life! There are actually around 100 different species of fungi that have this incredibly cool ability.

Most are from the Omphalotus genus which includes Ghost mushrooms and Jack-o’-lantern mushrooms. Learn more about these amazing fungi — their appearance, habitat, and toxicity — in this article.

Omphalotus Genus of Mushrooms that Glow in the Dark

It might feel like Halloween, stumbling upon these mushrooms’ eerie green glow in the forest. In the Fungi Kingdom of roughly 100,000 described species, there are 108 recognized bioluminescent fungi (light-emitting) species as of 2020.

Specifically, these species belong to four distant but related lineages found worldwide — Omphalotus, Armillaria, Mycenoid, and Lucentipes. Most of which are abundant in the tropics.

Why Do Some Mushrooms Glow in the Dark?

Basically, fungal bioluminescence is caused by chemical reactions between luciferin, oxygen, and fungal luciferase. Luminous fungi emit green light from their fruiting bodies, mycelia, or both.

Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light by a living organism. It results from a chemical reaction during which chemical energy is converted to light energy.

Specifically, this occurs when an enzyme, luciferase, catalyzes an organic substance called luciferin. Some scientists believe that the mushroom’s light emission attracts insects which may aid in spore dispersal.

According to mycologist Dennis Desjardin, there is evidence that in some species, insects are more attracted to glowing mushrooms.

However, other studies show that bioluminescence in fungus does not attract potential spore dispersing insects.

3 Most Popular Glowing Mushrooms

Now, let us get to know some of these famous glowing fungi. Popular glowing species include Jack-o’-lantern mushroom, Ghost mushroom, and Moon Night mushroom.

Jack-o’-Lantern Mushroom (Omphalotus olearius or Omphalotus illudens)

Identify Jack-o'-lantern mushroom (Omphalotus olearius or Omphalotus illudens) - dense clusters around the base of a dying tree - deep crowded gills

Jack-o’-lantern mushrooms are abundant in North America and parts of central & southern mainland Europe. They usually grow from July to October, in dense clusters. You can spot them at the base of deciduous trees, decaying stumps, or less commonly, on buried woods.

Fruiting bodies are striking, bright orange in color, and have deep crowded gills running down the stem. The caps are convex, sunken in the center, with tiny bump. Also, flesh is pale orange. Only the the gills gives off a very faint blue-green glow and is only observable in low-light conditions.

Jack-o’-lanterns are not poisonous to touch but are harmful when eaten. Ingestion may cause symptoms of nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, and weakness. Poisoning cases is often due to misidentifying Jack-o’-lanterns as the edible Chanterelles. Read about Jack o’lantern mushroom poisoning

Ghost Mushrooms (Omphalotus nidiformis)

Identify Ghost mushroom (Omphalotus nidiformis) - funnel cream caps overlapping clusters on a dead tree - cream gills - faint bluish-white glow

Next, we have Ghost mushroom from Southern Australia, Southeast Asia, and India. This fungi grows in large overlapping clusters on both dead wood (saprophytic) and living trees (where it is parasitic).

The caps are funnel-shaped and cream-colored with shades of orange or brown in the center. Also, the flesh is thin creamy white in color. The cream-colored gills run down the length of the stem.

Photos from the internet may have you thinking that ghost fungi glow green. But in person, you will see it with your naked eye as having a very faint bluish white glow.

Though not lethal, ingestion of Ghost mushroom results to vomiting and severe cramps. Such symptoms occur 30 minutes to two hours after ingestion and lasts for several hours. Read about The Poisonous Ghost Fungus

Besides, hunters often mistake ghost fungi with the edible Oyster mushrooms. Read about 7 Types of Oyster Mushrooms & 3 Poisonous Look Alikes

Moon Night Mushroom (Omphalotus japonicus)

Identify Moon Night mushroom (Omphalotus japonicus) Tsukiyotake - grows on dead beech trees in mountainous regions of Japan - glows faintly white

Moon Night mushroom, also known as tsukiyotake (月夜茸), is native to Japan and Eastern Asia. Further sightings include Korea, China, and Russia. This fungi appears from September to October in mountainous areas, growing on dead or decaying beech trees.

The caps are kidney or half-moon-shaped with orange to light brown color that darkens with age. Further, flesh is white and gills are thick white extending downward which can turn yellowish with age. They grow seemingly even-spaced surrounding dying tree trunks and even tree branches.

In the dark, fungi gills emit a pale white glow. But with long exposure camera settings, it is captured as a vivid greenish glow.

Just like the other glowing mushrooms, it is poisonous. Within 30 minutes to 3 hours of consumption, symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain typically appear. However, in severe cases, intestinal edema (build-up of excess fluid) will manifest several days after. Read about Tsukiyotake (Lampteromyces japonicus) Poisoning

O. japonicus is often mistaken as the edible Shiitake and Oyster mushrooms.

popular bioluminescent fungi or glowing mushrooms - Bitter Oyster (Panellus stipticus) - Little Ping-pong Bats (Panellus pusillus) - Honey Mushroom (Armillaria mellea)

In addition, other popular bioluminescent species include Panellus stipticus & Panellus pusillus (in the family Mycenacea), and Armillaria mellea.

Wrapping Up | Glow In The Dark Mushrooms

As we explore the dark corners of the world, the discovery of glowing Omphalotus mushrooms is not uncommon. These ghostly mushrooms, Jack-o’-lantern, Moon Night, and Ghost mushrooms, are so named for their ability to glow in the dark.

Besides, their bioluminescent properties are a source of fascination for fungi enthusiasts or photographers. But though their glow seem to attract insects and even us humans, keep in mind that they are NOT for consumption.

Finally, learning about these fascinating fungi could help you better understand how other organisms live and grow.





Curative Mushrooms has to post the standard FDA Disclaimer…The statements made regarding medicinal mushrooms have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. Curative Mushrooms is not making claims intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All information presented here is not meant as a substitute for or alternative to information from healthcare practitioners. Please consult your healthcare professional about potential interactions or other possible complications before consuming the medicinal mushrooms. The Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act requires this notice.


This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Curative Mushrooms nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.


Always looking for ways to improve the health of myself and my family led me to the discovery of medicinal mushrooms and the numerous health benefits they have on the body. My mission is to spread this knowledge and help as many people as possible.

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