King Alfred’s cakes
Daldinia concentrica: known as King Alfred’s cakes or coal fungus grows on the park’s trees, in this case on a dead ash tree.
The name refers to the Anglo-Saxon King Alfred who burned the cakes that he was left to watch; and these fungi do look like little burnt bread rolls. The specimens in the photograph are at an early stage of their growth; they will become charcoal black and woody when they are mature. In the past, they were then collected and dried to be used as firelighters, which must have been the origin of the name coal fungus.
Cut in half, the fungus has clear concentric, silvery grey and black growth rings inside. Each ring is a year’s growth and the species is named for them: concentrica .
They are common and widespread but they are not as obvious or as large as some bracket fungus and can be quite difficult to spot. Look carefully in the wooded parts of the park and send us photographs if you find them.