Tuesday 21 May
King Alfred's cakes (Daldinia concentrica)
What’s the World’s Favourite Species?Find out here.
King Alfred's cakes fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
King Alfred's cakes description
King Alfred's cakes, also known as 'cramp balls' is a hard, inedible ball-shaped fungus (4). The visible part of the fungus, the fruit-body is initially reddish-brown in colour, but becomes black and shiny as it ages (2). The flesh is purple-brownish in colour (4), and dark concentric rings are visible when the fungus is cut open (3). The name 'cramp balls' refers to the belief that this fungus protected against cramp; men used to carry them around in their pockets for this reason (4).
WARNING: Many species of fungus are poisonous or contain chemicals that can cause sickness. Never pick and eat any species of fungus that you cannot positively recognise or are unsure about. Some species are deadly poisonous and can cause death within a few hours if swallowed.
- Also known as
- Cramp balls.
- Diameter: 2-7 cm (2)
- Fruit body
- In fungi, the fruit body is the visible part of the fungus which bears spores (microscopic particles involved in both dispersal and reproduction).
- Metabolic process characteristic of plants in which carbon dioxide is broken down, using energy from sunlight absorbed by the green pigment chlorophyll. Organic compounds are made and oxygen is given off as a by-product.
- Microscopic particles involved in both dispersal and reproduction. They comprise a single or group of unspecialised cells and do not contain an embryo, as do seeds.
National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (Jan 2003):
- Jordan, M. (1995) The encyclopedia of fungi of Britain and Europe. David and Charles, Devon.
- Courteciusse, R. (1999) Mushrooms of Britain and Europe. Harper Collins Publishers, London.
- Dickinson, C. and Lucas, J. (1979) The encyclopedia of mushrooms. Orbis Publishing, London.
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
King Alfred's cakes biology
Fungi are neither plants nor animals but belong to their own kingdom. They are unable to produce their own food through the process of photosynthesis, as plants do; instead, they acquire nutrients from living or dead plants, animals, or other fungi, as animals do. In many larger fungi (lichens excepted) the only visible parts are the fruit bodies, which arise from a largely unseen network of threads called 'hyphae'. These hyphae permeate the fungus's food source, which may be soil, leaf litter, rotten wood, dung, and so on, depending on the species (3).
This species occurs throughout the year (3). During spring (2), it can be found covered in a layer of sooty black spores; these are released at night and can travel up to 2 cm away from the fruit body from which they were discharged. It is also believed by some authorities that the alder wood wasp is involved in the dispersal of spores. Timber infected by this fungus develops a white rot known as 'calico wood' (4).Top
King Alfred's cakes range
This fungus is common throughout Europe, North America and Australia and also occurs in New Zealand (4).Top
King Alfred's cakes habitat
King Alfred's cakes are found growing on the dead branches of deciduous trees, particularly ash, but can also occur on beech and alder (4).Top
King Alfred's cakes status
King Alfred's cakes threats
This fungus is not threatened.Top
King Alfred's cakes conservation
Conservation action has not been targeted at this species.Top
Find out more
For more information on King Alfred's cakes, see:Top
This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.