Friday, 11 May 2012

King Alfred's Cakes

There is a dazzling array of different fungi to be found around the estate as the photo above shows. King Alfred’s Cakes (Daldinia concentrica) is commonly found on the dead wood of ash as this specimen was. It was photographed at the edge of Blaid’s Wood, just past the sewerage works at the bottom of Hollingside Lane.

The name comes from the legend that King Alfred, who was hiding from the Danes, once burnt some cakes by failing to take them out of the oven. The fungal growths, which look as if they have been burned, are a reminder of his poor cooking skills!

For the bushcraft fans amongst us – the dried inner flesh of the fungus can easily be lit, a bit like a barbeque briquette, and then laid on some dry grass or twigs and before you know it, you have a fire going.

Please don’t try this in the University woodland though!

(Text and Photograph by Steve Ansdell)