Expert Voices

Glowing Mushrooms Photographed in Quirk of Fate

glowing mushrooms in Florida
Bioluminescent "Jill o' Lanterns" (Omphalotus subilludens) in Mt. Dora, Fla. (Image credit: Taylor Lockwood.)

Taylor Lockwood is a mushroom hunter and photographer who has presented his work at shows throughout the world for over twenty-five years and has archived his photographs on the site Mushroom.Pro. Lockwood contributed this article to LiveScience's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

After taking my camera and passion for bioluminescent mushrooms around the world, I was pleased to find some "glowers" in my little town of Mount Dora, Fla. I had only seen them once before, so an uncommon bloom of these "Jill o' Lanterns" (Omphalotus subilludens) got me right into gear.

If you're a topical expert — researcher, business leader, author or innovator — and would like to contribute an op-ed piece, email us here.

These are the cousins to the "Jack o' Lanterns" (Omphalotus illudens) known up and down the east coast and into parts west.

According to Jim Kimbrough's book on Florida mushrooms, Omphalotus subilludens wasn't known to be bioluminescent. Some two years ago, I had found and documented the mushrooms' dim greenish glow — I believe the first such photos of O. subilludens. [Glowing Mushrooms, Stalk-Eyed Bugs & Plant Toilet Found in Borneo ]

This time I was ready with a plan.

I've been waiting and looking for them for months, and as soon as I found some, I drove to Orlando (the nearest big city) and rented a Canon EOS 6D camera, top-rated for its low-light capabilities. The result was that I got some good photos from a very difficult-to-photograph Spirits of the Forest mushroom.

And then two days later, as fate would have it, I found another kind of rarely captured bioluminescent mushroom — two different species within the four days of my rental period. These might be the only two that glow and grow on my home turf.

Panellus pusillus is a bioluminescent mushroom only rarely photographed glowing. Photographer Taylor Lockwood was able to use a special low-light camera to capture this image. (Image credit: Taylor Lockwood.)

The second group I found was so dim I only noticed them in my peripheral vision — long after my eyes had adjusted to total darkness. Looking at them directly, it was hard to tell if they glowed at all. However, the bigger-better-faster camera saw it well enough to capture a passable image.

This second set was Panellus pusillus, a tropical mushroom found occasionally in Florida. Both are featured in the new video Spirits of the Forest.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. This article was originally published on LiveScience.