occurrence of bioluminescent tree lichen or moss in middle Tennessee

Asked December 7, 2016, 11:16 AM EST

Last night, December 6, 2016 (after dark), I noticed a distinct, irregularly-shaped spot (probably less than 4 square inches) of glowing green approximately 20 or 25 feet up on the eastern side of the bark of a hackberry tree at my house (however, early this morning, before light, it wasn't showing).
When I shined a bright flashlight on it, it just appeared to be common lichen or moss.
I didn't attempt to photograph it since I would expect it to require an extended exposure duration.
Is anyone aware of any specific type of bioluminescent tree lichen or moss species that occurs in middle Tennessee?

Davidson County Tennessee forestry trees and shrubs horticulture

3 Responses

Dear DavidsonCo, TN,

Thank you for contacting Extension with your Natural Resource questions. Bioluminescent fungi occur world wide. Everyone knows about the fungi in the Great Smokeys, but few look outside. The National Parks System has a ID guide for the Smokeys: https://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/nature/upload/Fungimap%20Project.pdf I believe if you compare the fungi in the Park with what you have in your yard, you will find similarities if not the same species. Blessings. - Andy

Thanks for your reply, Andy, but from my remote observation (looking up to about 20-25 feet off the ground), the light from my flashlight didn't reveal any kind of significant or distinctive "shadow effects". The appearance on the tree was much more like a "flat" or "2-dimensional" patch of common lichen not resembling "typical" distinctive 3-dimensional mushroom features (as shown in the NPS file you provided).
I'll attempt a photograph next time I observe it, but since it was well after sundown, I'm afraid by increasing the exposure time and/or aperture, everything else would be underexposed, removing any kind of visual reference.

Thank you for your insights. When you get a chance to take the pictures send them directly to my email address. I will receive them quicker. - Andy