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Cramp Ball

A distinctive fungus common all year round on dead ash and beech and so common throughout Dorset


  • Daldinia concentrica: cramp balls

    Post date: Saturday, 2 April, 2016 - 00:00

    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!

Common Name Cramp Ball
Alternative Name(s) King Alfred's Cakes
Scientific Name Daldinia concentrica
Species Group Cup and Jelly Fungi
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Identification Notes
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Similar Species

The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Notebook Distribution Map Sites List Some Charts Some Photographs Recent Records Guidance Notes

To see related species click here: 

Cup and Jelly Fungi