King Alfred’s burnt his cakes

There’s a seriously weird fungus growing on this fallen tree trunk. It looks the shape of bubbles, as if it’s been forced out of the trunk under pressure. It’s Daldinia concentrica, a common fungus on fallen wood.

Bridford Woods - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

This fungus is sometimes known as King Alfred’s Cakes, because they look like something which has been in the oven too long, and because of the legend of King Alfred being so distracted by his trouble with Vikings that, while on the run in 878, he forgot to check the cakes of the Somerset woman he was hiding with, and let them burn. If only all history was taught through domestic stories, we’d know a lot more about domesticity and a lot less history.

What tree does King Alfred’s Cakes grow on? Ash, of course.

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