From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article
Foxfire, also sometimes referred to as "fairy fire", is the bioluminescence created by some species of fungi present in decaying wood. The bluish green glow is attributed to luciferase, an oxidative enzyme, which emits light as it reacts with luciferin. Although the purpose is unknown, it is widely believed that the light is meant to attract insects to spread its spores or, to act as a warning to hungry animals, similar to the bright colors exhibited by some poisonous or unpalatable species of animals. Although generally very dim, in some cases the illumination may be bright enough to read by.
The oldest recorded documentation of foxfire was written by Aristotle in 382 B.C. His notes make a reference to a light that, unlike fire, was cold to the touch. The Roman thinker Pliny the Elder also mentioned glowing wood that appeared in olive groves.
Although there are many more literary references to foxfire by early scientists and naturalists, the true cause was not discovered until 1823. The glow emitted from wooden support beams in mines was examined, and it was found that the luminescence was due to fungal growth.
The "fox" in "foxfire" may derive from the Old French word fols, meaning "false," rather than from the name of the animal. The association of foxes with such fires is widespread, however, and occurs in Japanese folklore.
|This fungus-related article is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.|