King Alfred’s Cakes – Daldinia concentrica

Also called ‘Cramp Balls’, these are irregular ball-shaped fungi which attach themselves to wood without a stem. They begin reddish-brown and then turn black with a smooth texture, eventually becoming like charcoal, hence the common English name which stems from the Saxons King’s burnt cakes. When sliced open the fruit body can be seen to be made up of dark and white concentric rings. Fruit body 2 to 7cm wide.

Found all year round, solitary or in groups on the dead wood of deciduous trees, especially ash and birch. Common and widespread.