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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

02 April, 2016

Daldinia concentrica: cramp balls



These black, crusty balls that appear on dead twigs and branches are called cramp balls (Daldinia concentrica) but are also commonly known as King Alfred's cakes. It is not hard to see why but if this what the cakes looked like after Alfred neglected them then I am pretty sure the old woman who left him in  charge of the cooking would have been pretty livid! I have no idea why they are called cramp balls however, medical connection perhaps? 
Cramp balls do not really look like a fungus, in fact they don't look like anything else really! Just round and, at first brown, but soon a shiny black. If you cut one in half you will find silver coloured concentric rings inside - concentrica. Common all year round on dead ash and beech and so common throughout Dorset.
Not edible, burnt cakes rarely are!
Daldinia concentrica: cramp balls