There are creatures out there that can create light with their own bodies. And that, just by itself is just fascinating. What kind of image comes to your mind when you think about this kind of creatures? Maybe those creepy fishes that live in the deep of the ocean, or the plancton that creates that beautiful imaginery of light and water by the shore of the sea. Or maybe, like me, you think of fireflies flying through the night making the darkness look like a fairytale where anything fantastical could happen.

It’s true that there’s something beautiful and breathtaking about those kind of creatures and our own nature makes us comfortable around light. But then, what about plants? Are there any bioluminiscent plants out there in the world?

Well, I didn’t find any actual plants that shine but there are two really curious species that can.

The Jack o’Lantern Mushroom

botany, fairylights, and light image

It’s latin name is Omphalotus olearius and is a beutiful mushroom to see but not to touch because it is poisonous. It contains the toxin muscarine, that causes cramps, diarrhea and vomits. So better keep a distance.

The glow is due to a enzyme that makes the gills glow with a blue-green color. And during the day its color is bright orange.

The Jack O’Lantern Mushroom can be found in clusters on wood at late summer and fall. Specially is appears in undergrowths of fir, chestnut, oak, beech, holm oak and olive trees.

The Ghost fungus

botany, fairylights, and light image

Also know as Omphalotus nidiformis, this gilled mushroom is famous thanks to its bioluminiscent properties. It grows in clusters on dead or diseased wood and at night it has a pale whitish glow but in daylight it’s color is very variable. The colors of the ghost fungus range from tinted orange, brownish, greyish, purple to black shades.

This mushroom is distributed through southern Australia and Tasmania, at is found in eucalypt and pine forests, in some arid habitats as Wyperfeld National Park, in subalpine areas of Mount Buffalo National Park, also in urban parks and gardens.

Outside Australia it has been reported its presence in Norfolk Island, New Zealand, and Kerala, India.

Like the Jack o’Lantern mushroom, the ghost fungus is toxic too; while not lethal, its consumtion causes vomiting and severe cramps.