Bioluminescent Firewood

Two unremarkable chunks of split cedar destined for a fire

But look again – something strange is going on. It’s not photoshop tricks, just a long exposure in a dark room with a bit of fill flash

I recently was offered a chance to see some glowing firewood a friend of a friend had noticed while chopping wood. I picked it up after dark, but couldn’t really see anything as I carried it home. I had been told that the freshly split would seemed to glow more strongly, so I pulled out my hatchet and cut the chunk into too pieces After bringing it inside to a dark room and letting my eyes adjust, I found that if I didn’t look directly at the wood (and so used the more light sensitive rods that are used for peripheral vision), I noticed a faint glow coming off each of the pieces.

The bioluminescence was only barely visible to me, kind of like in this photo

Long (~3 minute) exposure with no fill flash.

Bioluminescence in wood is from decomposing fungus doing its thing. I’m not sure which species it might be (though cedar is not prone to infection from very many, so that seemed kind of interesting to me). I also do not know how common it is. I’ve heard about it previously, but this is the first time I’ve had a chance to observe it. Thanks to Paul Norwood for offering me this piece, and to Laurent Deviche for noticing it and sharing it with Paul.

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