Are There Mushrooms that Glow in the Dark?
Yes, many mushrooms glow in the dark. There is a term called “bioluminescence.” This means that organisms that shed light are known as bioluminescent organisms. Mushrooms are no different.
Over 100,000 different species of fungi have been discovered until today, and just 71 to 97 of them are bioluminescent means they emit light. Many of you might not know this, but mushrooms are the kind of fungi that do not need light.
It is pretty weird to believe, though, that these living organisms do not require sunlight because they do not possess chlorophyll for photosynthesis. For that reason, they prefer to stay in dark and dank places. However, it is not entirely true.
Mushrooms need light only for a few hours every day, just to keep the ball rolling. Because they are primarily found in dark places, some tend to glow magnificently. To be precise, the latest species of glowing fungi was discovered recently, named Roridomyces phyllostachydis.
This species became a member of the 97 discovered glowing fungi. Experts have been at it for a long time, and hopefully, more glowing mushroom species are yet to be discovered. So, to answer the query in simpler words, Yes, many mushrooms glow in the dark.
Why do Some Mushrooms Glow in the Dark?
Mushrooms that glow in the dark have always compelled human beings to figure out what they are and how they are emitting light? Thousands of years ago, people used to believe that there was some kind of ghost in the plants, which made them glow. (I’m referring to mushrooms as plants because ancient people did not know that mushrooms are not plants.)
They used to call them “ghost mushrooms.” But science has proved that many chemical reactions occur inside the mushrooms to make them glow. It has come to light that luciferin and molecular oxygen react with others so that the mushrooms emit light.
But does the light has any significance? Does it provide any benefit to the mushrooms? Scientists are not 100% sure why do these fungi glow. Some suggest that their ability to emit light is just a derivative of other chemical mechanisms.
This means that the light does not have any importance in the mushrooms. But there is one other stronger speculation that mushrooms use this light to draw insects towards them.
To Attract Insects:
As you all know, mushrooms are not plants. That is why they need others to help them reproduce. Basically, what happens is that insects are drawn by this glow, and their spores get attached to their bodies and are automatically scattered when those insects fly away.
Mushrooms can not move, so this is the only way they can keep their reproduction intact. Furthermore, this is how they expand their colonies and keep on surviving. However, there is a reason why it is a theory and not a law.
Because some researchers used artificial plastic mushrooms with LED lights to investigate whether insects are drawn to actual mushrooms or the emitting light. Precisely as they thought, many insects were attracted to the artificial mushrooms.
But in another experiment, some fungi did not draw any insects. This was concluded that insects are only drawn to some of the glowing fungi, not all of them. But it is still unclear whether this light has significance or not.
Which kind of Mushrooms Glow in the Dark?
There are around 10 fungi that emit light, such as Panellus pusillus, Mycena Pura, Armillaria mellea, and others.
1. Armillaria mellea:
Also known as Honey Mushrooms. These fungi are usually orange in color and are mainly shared with the Asian continent by the Americas. There are those fungi that glow visibly like you can see them with your naked eyes.
But the Armillaria mellea mushrooms glow from the inside (their mycelia glow, precisely). So, if it is not easily seen, what is the point of glowing? The theory is that they do not want to come animals anywhere near them drawn by the light. That is why they keep a low light and a low profile.
2. Mycena Pura:
These glowing fungi are among the prettiest in the kingdom, as they have such a unique color, Purple. People say that they don’t even need the glow to look beautiful. We said this because, just like the honey mushrooms, they do not visibly glow.
Their glow is mainly in their mycelia and can only be seen if observed correctly. The reason is said to be the same as honey mushrooms, to avoid drawing animals.
3. Omphalotus illudens:
These fungi have illudin S toxin in them. They are mainly orange in color. You can easily see them glowing in the dark with your eyes, as they emit light to draw insects from the surroundings (most probably).
They are mostly found in the European and African continents and are distributed to the rest of the world from here, especially Asia.
4. Mycena chlorophos:
Mycena chlorophos’ glow is the most beautiful when it’s born recently. Precisely speaking, if the fungus’ age is just around 1 or a maximum of 2 days, you will see it glowing brightly at first glance.
Furthermore, they require a specific temperature for a good glow (80 degrees F, to be precise). The genus that they belong to is considered to be among the most glowing ones.
5. Panellus stipticus:
The magnificent glow of Panellus stipticus is like no other. They are mainly found in the North American continent and are distributed to the whole world from here. Panellus stipticus has many types, but only some of them glow to the fullest.
They may look a bit faded in the daylight, but no other mushrooms species can challenge their glow in the dark. Mainly their mycelia and grills glow at night.
6. Armillaria gallica:
Just like other fungi in this genus, they are mainly yellowish in color. People come from all over the world in Michigan to see these glowing fungi.
But they do not openly (visibly) glow. Their glow is limited to their mycelia. The reason is believed to be not to draw any animal presence that can harm them in ways.
7. Mycena luxaeterna:
They are mostly found in Brazil and glow only through their stems. This glow can be seen in the night because the sunlight overpowers their light.
Whenever we hear about glowing mushrooms, we imagine the whole body glowing, but that’s not the case with Mycena luxaeterna because their cap-like head does not glow at night, only their stems.
8. Mycena Haematopus:
Among the most beautiful and extravagant fungi are Mycena Haematopus because they emit rubber-like liquid whenever they are forced open by an external force.
It is pretty difficult for the normal eye to see their glow because, first, it is faded; second, the light mainly occurs in the mycelia. They are primarily found in the European and American continents.
9. Panellus pusillus:
They are mostly found in huge bundles and are cloaked around the tree branches. However, the Panellus pusillus fungi are bioluminescent, but it is almost impossible to see the glow in direct sunlight.
But wait till the sunset. It will be worth your adventure if you happen to see them at night because that is when their “true” colors are appropriately visible. These fungi are found on almost all continents.
10. Omphalotus olearius:
They glow for some time during their lifetime through their cap bottoms and their mycelia. It usually takes a better eye to properly see their glow.
As time passes, they lose their glow and, of course, their freshness. These mushrooms are also found in almost all continents in the world, with the exception of a couple.
Where can you Find Glow-in-the-dark mushrooms?
Primarily, these glowing fungi can be found in Asian, European, American, and Australian continents. There are less than 100 of these species around the world.
Where do most fungi species are found in the world? Most mushrooms and their species are found in Asia (China, precisely). Other continents like Europe and the Americas are not far behind. These three continents are the leading ones in fungi species.
Are Glowing Mushrooms Edible?
However, the glowing mushrooms do not pose an immediate threat to your health. As most of them are not dangerous to humans (while some of them are).
It is important to learn about these glowing mushrooms’ danger levels individually because not all of these fungi can be measured with one meter. Not all glowing fungi are edible.
How do you grow Glow-in-the-Dark Mushrooms?
You’ll need a bag of mycelia, a Panellus stipticus string, a sprayer, a thermometer, bleach, and a gallon of water. You will have to freeze the mycelia and the fungi spores for some time and then spread them on the ground.
Then water them daily with expert supervision. Your mushrooms will be ready in 1 to 3 months’ time, and you will have your own glowing mushroom in the garden.
It is okay to eat most of the listed mushrooms, as they are not that much dangerous for human beings, but some of them may be lethal.
They are primarily found in the Asian, European, and American continents and are shared with the whole from there. You can grow them in your house but consider consulting an expert first. Thank you.