King Alfred's Cakes (Daldinia concentrica)
King Alfred's Cakes (D. concentrica), or Cramp Balls as they are also commonly known (because carrying them was once thought to cure attacks of the cramp), are common and widespread throughout most of Britain. They are hard to the touch and appear as an uneven, rounded fungus that resembles burnt buns - hence their common vernacular name. Occurring mostly on ash and beech, the above specimens were all found on a fallen ash branch, they attach themselves very firmly to the substrate. They initially appear reddish-brown but become more black, with a smooth texture dusted with fallen spores on maturity, these rubbing off to leave a shiny surface.
Maybe not the most exotic of species but fascinating nonetheless …
Buczacki, S., Shields, C. and Ovenden, D. (2012). Collins Fungi Guide: The most complete field guide to the mushrooms and toadstools of Britain & Ireland. London: HarperCollins, p. 598, fig. p. 599.
O’Reilly, P. (2016). Fascinated by Fungi – exploring the majesty and mystery, facts and fantasy of the quirkiest kingdom on earth. Llandysul: First Nature, p. 239.
Phillips, R. (2006). Mushrooms. London: Pan Macmillan, p. 374, fig. b.
Sterry, P. and Hughes. B. (2009). Collins Complete Guide to British Mushrooms and Toadstools. London: HarperCollins, p. 328, fig. p. 329.