T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network

Daldina concentrica (King Alfreds Cakes)

Kingdom: Fungi
Division: Ascomycota
Subdivision: Pezizomycotina
Class: Sordariomycetes
Subclass: Xylariomycetidae
Order: Xylariales
Family: Xylariaceae
Genus: Daldinia
Species: D. concentrica
Binomial name Daldinia concentrica
Common names: King Alfreds Cakes, Cramp balls,

These always grow on wood. They look and feel like hard half-round balls.
When cut in half, concentric bands of light and dark colours are seen. See photo below

The fungus is a useful form of tinder for fire-lighting. It does need

to be completely dry, whereupon it will easily take a spark. It burns slowly, much like a charcoal briquette, with a particularly pungent smoke. Once lit it is 

quite difficult to extinguish but fragments can be broken off and transferred to a tinder ball to create an open flame. Maoris used to to cart fire from one place to another using this fungi, A video on its use in firelighting can be found at the bottom of this page.

Daldina concentrica grown on a old log


Daldina concentrica cut  in half showing the concentric bands

The following  fungi of the same genus and to date unable to identify. 

A video on identifying Daldina concentrica and its use as a fire lighter.