Monday, 28 April 2008

King Alfreds cakes - (27/04)

On a couple of trees next to the Torrs Hydro site can be found some unusual fungus - not rare, but just look unusual !

Some common names for this fungus are the coal fungus, carbon balls, cramp balls, or King Alfred's cakes. I guess we'll call it the coal fungus for this month, since it fits with our theme. "Coal fungus" and "carbon balls"

Daldinia concentrica (for all of you that were classically educated) is also known in this country as "King Alfred's cakes," which is perhaps the most storied name for this fungus. As the legend goes, King Alfred was fleeing a battle with the Danes in Somerset when he took refuge in an old woman's house. The old woman, not knowing he was the king, left Alfred in charge of watching some cakes in the oven. Of course, he knew nothing about ovens or baking (and why should he, he was King!) and didn't really know what he was supposed to do. He fell asleep, and the cakes burned. The old woman scolded him soundly for being lazy, but later she was probably sorry about "raking him over the coals" when she found out he was the King!

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