Jack-o’-Lantern Mushroom

It’s orange, so you bet this mushroom has been named for your human holiday!

Jack-o'-Lantern mushroom

We’re a few days late, but Hickory and I just ran across a Jack-o’-Lantern mushroom, Omphalotus olearius, and wanted to share it.

Not only is this mushroom orange, but its gills glows in the dark–when the mushrooms are newly sprouted, which these are not. We squirrels didn’t try to photograph the glow, so suggest you look at the Cornell Mushroom Blog. The cool thing is, it’s the same luminescent enzyme, luciferase, that makes fireflies glow.

Jack-o'-Lantern mushroom

Besides looking a bit ragged, these may even be eaten around the edges, but that’s not by humans! Do not touch this species, because like many of the scary things about Halloween, this mushroom is poisonous.

One Of Nature’s Mysteries To Solve

Hey there!

Recognize this one?

Mystery #128

Give me your guesses and I’ll check back later with your answer!


Well, folks, this is one to stay away from. Fly Agaric or Fly Amanita, Amanita mascara, is poisonous. It’s usually red, but different subspecies can be orange or yellow. They always have those crusty white spots. A ‘skirt’ can sometimes be seen on the white stalk.

Here’s an interesting thing about the name: In some areas, the powdered agaric has been used to keep away flies and other insects, including in milk. So some people have eaten the mushroom after has been prepared in a certain way. Also, as you see, some animals can eat it.

Fly Agaric

Large portions of it!

Fly Agaric partially eaten

Remember, these are animals eating this poisonous plant.

We have made this point before on The Squirrel Nutwork: Humans should not eat something an animal eats, or even if the information or folklore of a wild plant includes other cultures eating it. Please do your research before consuming anything in the wild. Better to be safe and just enjoy the pretty looks!

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve


It’s been so overcast and gloomy in Northern Virginia, I didn’t get my post up very early. But this week I wanted to share a real mystery–even to us squirrels here at The Squirrel Nutwork. This er, object photograph was sent in to us–thanks, Jeanine!–so we didn’t have the pleasure of curling it, poking our noses to it or taking a swipe at it.

Mystery #111

Any guesses?

Back with you later!


Looks like we are a little stumped. Heh, for a bit I–Hickory Squirrel–considered those little holes and the gray coloring meant a paper wasp nest got rolled around in a mud puddle and became somewhat waterlogged.

Then Miz Flora declared it a fungus because of the stalk emerging from the ground.

Nutmeg thought it might be a puffball that dried up before maturing.

But during another email exchange, our reader/photographer suggested false truffle. That’s looking like the best guess after we looked it up. The stalk is a clue, and the ‘spongy appearance’.  If any of you human readers come across one again, it seems a nasty odor and cutting the false truffle open to see if a stalk is hidden inside would confirm that’s the group.

However, please do not consider our guesses here accurate identification. Fungus are tricky to identify and since many are poisonous, please do not use our ramblings as proof. We never recommend eating anything from the wild without positive identification from experts!

Fall is mushroom sprouting time

The rain is bringing out the ‘srooms!


We don’t know what this one is exactly, but Miz Flora thinks the little extra flap of white around the stem means it’s poisonous. We caution you human readers not to handle or eat any wild mushrooms. Just have a look at how cool they are.

Thirsty Thursday

Folks, Ol’ Wally is feelin’ the heat these days, so this old squirrel took himself off to a shady woods spot. I noticed something…spotty about a pile of wood chips dumped from a recent tree cutting.

mushroom 1


Now, forgive me if this isn’t your idea of water, but on a hot summer’s day you know these mushrooms are only sprouting because they did find water. And apparently they didn’t all sprout at the same time, because as you will see, they mushrooms are at different growth stages, from just sprouting to dying. Now I can’t say if the  reason for this was just random, or if it had anything to do with shade versus sun or dry versus wetter areas of the pile. But I did find the different stages to be interesting.

mushroom 3

mushroom 2

mushroom 5

mushroom 4

Have a cool day!

Turkey Tails

To start the new month off right, here’s another seasonal special:

Turkey Tail Fungus

That’s right, Turkey Tail fungus! This shelf fungus takes it name because the various colored stripes do resemble a turkey’s tail. Hickory and I revisited the shelf fungus from a post last January and found it has thrived over the summer, sending out many new fruiting bodies, which is what these ‘shelfs’ are.