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Spooky and fierce fungi in Asheville, NC

Poisonous Jack O’Lantern mushrooms resemble seasonal gourds and also glow in the dark.

AVL jack o'lantern mushroom

Jack-O’lantern’s get their name from the fact that they are bioluminescent, like seasonal carved gourds.

Photo by Juliet Blankespoor

In the deep, dark woods of WNC, wicked and wildly beautiful Jack O’Lantern mushrooms grow. And when night falls, these bright orange bioluminescent fungi glow.

Scientifically known as Omphalotus illudens, these pumpkin-like mushrooms look dangerously delicious and are often confused with chanterelles. However, unlike chanterelles, Jack O’Lantern mushrooms are poisonous and not safe for human consumption.

Another key difference? Chanterelles prefer to grow on their own or with a few others, Jack O’Lanterns grow in clusters and emerge from stumps, fallen logs, or buried roots.

Curious about learning to safely forage for food locally? We recommend checking out No Taste Like Home Tours.

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