Omphalotus Olivascens

A poisonous mushroom that pervades the California coastal mountains and confuses unwary chantrelle hunters into thinking they have hit paydirt. The so-called jack-o-lantern mushroom has true gills (unlike the chantrelle,) a pumpkin orange color with olive green tints, flesh the same color as the surface, and tends to grow in clusters at the base of dead trees, on tree stumps, and from buried logs. Pictured here is an older cluster that has started to deliquesce (melt into slime), but occasionally you can find bright orange individual specimens that superficially resemble chantrelles - at least at a distance. A note to novice chantrelle-o-philes: to be on the safe side, always check the gills of a chantrelle to make sure they are shallow ridges rather than the olive colored, deep true gills of O. olivascens or its east Coast cousin O. Olearius.