King Alfred’s Cakes

King Alfred’s CakesKing Alfred’s Cakes

Latin name: Daldinia concentrica --INEDIBLE--

Also known as Cramp Balls or Coal Fungus

The fruiting body of this fungus is in the form of a very hard ball, initially a dark rusty brown, becoming black and shiny with age – the resemblance to burnt cakes giving it one of its English names. The flesh is purple-brownish and when cut open it is possible to see the concentric growth rings with each layer representing a season of reproduction. It can be found on dead or dying branches of hardwood trees, usually of ash, all year round but the new growth appears from June to November. In the past it was believed that it protected against cramp (hence another name, Cramp Ball) and men used to carry the balls around in their pockets for this reason.

On Alderney the best place to find the fungus is in Barrackmaster’s Lane growing on old ash.

Status in the UK: common
Status in Alderney: locally common