Fungi are a group of organisms that are neither plant nor animal. Fungi obtain their nutrition from decaying organic matter. Fungi are not able to carry out photosynthesis and therefore lack chlorophyll which is present in green plants. By breaking down dead organic material fungi continue the life cycle. One such fungi, is of the Genus Daldinia.
Daldinia is of the Phylum Ascomycota, Class
Ascomycetes, Order Xylariales, and Family Xylariaceae. The genus consists of approximately 22 species. Daldinia concentrica also known as King Alfred's cakes, cramp balls or coal fungus is one of the more common species. Its common name of King Alfred's cakes comes from an incident where the King burned some cakes and the fungus resembled these burned cakes. D. concentrica was also once thought to cure cramps if you held them in your pant legs, hence the name cramp balls. D. concentrica, like most of the fungi belonging to the Xylariaceae family causes a white rot of host wood. The Daldinia species is exclusive to angiosperms and therefore presents no harm to humans. The fungus resembles a piece of coal. If cut through its mid-sagital plane concentric circles which represent a season's worth of reproduction are visible. On the surface of D. concentrica are small bumps which are fruiting bodies named perithecia. Within these perithecia are the asci, in which the ascospores are
borne. Ingold noted that D. concentrica was xerophytic meaning it could survive in habitats without water. In one of his experiments he detached D. concentrica from its host and noted that it continued to produce ascopores for 3 or 4 weeks without any additional water (1946).
An ecological benefit of Daldinia is that it continues to decay wood following decline and death of their hosts. D. concentrica also discharge their spores at night. This is advantageous to their survival because they can take advantage of the night dew for hydration even when there is no...