Monday 28 March 2016

Daldinia concentrica

Daldinia concentrica

Daldinia concentrica has various common names ie Cramp Balls and King Alfred's Cakes.
It grows on a variety of trees but does favour beech and ash and looks like small black balls of hard coal.  When young it is reddish brown with a greyish tinge, turning black in full maturity. It can reach up to 7cm in diameter. The flesh consists of concentrical zones.

Yesterday I visited Bottom Wood, near Matlock, Derbyshire. I've seen Daldinia concentrica on many occasions over the years but have always wanted to see the 'internal' concentrical ridge/zone structure.  Easier said than done, as the fruit body is extremely hard and I always thought a hack-saw! would be required to cut one in half.

The Daldinia I came across yesterday and touched, crumbled in half and there before me was the concentrical structure I had wanted to see for many years.  What struck me is that they look just like the 'rings' on tree trunks that have been cut down and are counted to ascertain the age of the tree.  On further research it seems that each zone layer on the Daldinia is representative of each season of growth.  I counted eight zones so presumably this example has had eight growing  seasons.

Below is a photograph showing the concentrical zones and a mature example.

Monday 7 March 2016

Bovista - Holkham Beach, Norfolk


What is a Bovista?  A Bovista is a true puffball.  It is usually round, oval or pear shaped and either lacks a stem or narrows into a stem like base.  Is quite small and measures no more than 4cm to 6cm across.  Some are attached to the ground by either a single cord known as a mycelial strand or others can be attached by masses of slender strands also known as mycelial strands.  The texture can vary but most tend to feel dry like parchment.  Some are smooth, others flaky and some compromise minute pointed or flattened scales.  The colour is variable from whitish grey to dark reddish brown.  

The apical hole can be regular or irregular in shape and the spores are mostly brown and powdery.  Usually grows in small groups of two or three on soil, grassland and pastures.  Also coastal regions near or in sand dunes.

Last week I returned to Norfolk.  When making my way to the Holkham Beach I spotted a small group of Bovista growing in pasture land very close to the beach.  This one was attached to the ground by masses of strands in sandy soil.  A spore print analysis was not done as I was away from home so an absolute identification could not be undertaken but it might be Bovista dermoxantha (pusilla).

Two photographs below and these will appear on in the future.