King Alfred's cakes by Tony Leech 1/1

King Alfred's Cakes Daldinia concentrica

This inedible fungus with a historic namesake is common in broadleaved woodland, and the fruiting bodies are small, hard, rounded balls which grow on dead trees.

Conservation status

Not under threat.

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Details

Did you know?

There is a legend that the Anglo Saxon King Alfred, while escaping war in one of his country homesteads, was being sheltered by a peasant woman – and was put in charge of removing her baked cakes from the oven. Unfortunately he fell asleep and did not remove the cakes which were subsequently 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. Also named coal fungus due to their historic use as fire starters (evidence dates back to an archaeological site from 7,000 years ago).

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