king Alfreds Cakes / Cramp Balls Daldinia concentrica
This inedible fungus is common in broadleaved woodland, and the fruiting bodies are small, hard, rounded balls which grow on dead trees.
Conservation status in Norfolk
Not under threat
How to help
Record any sightings and do not pick more than needed to identify
Information on the king Alfreds Cakes / Cramp Balls
How to recognise
Kind Alfred’s Cakes fruiting bodies are small, hard rounded balls which grow on dead trees. Each ‘cake’ varies in size from about two to ten centimetres. When the fruiting bodies first appear they are a reddish brown colour which then over time darkens to a black and becomes shiny. When the fruiting bodies are cut open concentric rings can be seen within.
Where to see
King Alfred’s Cakes fungus is common in broadleaved woodland in Britain throughout the year. This species is most often found on dead wood of beech, ash and silver birch trees. It does grow on other broadleaved trees but does not develop such large fruiting bodies. A good place to see King Alfred’s cakes is NWT Lower Wood, Ashwellthorpe.
Did you know?
There is a legend that the Anglo Saxon King Alfred, while escaping war in one of his country homesteads, was put in charge of removing the baked cakes from the oven. Unfortunately he fell asleep and did not remove the cakes which were burnt. The fungus which has the appearance of burnt buns takes its name from this story. The other name for King Alfred’s Cakes is Cramp Balls. This originates from the tradition that carrying the fungus in your pocket would help prevent cramp.
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