Scientific name: Daldinia concentrica (Bolton:Fries) Cesati
& de Notaris
Derivation of name: Concentrica refers to the concentrically
Common name(s): Carbon balls; Crampballs; King Alfred's
Occurrence on wood substrate: Saprobic; clustered on dead
deciduous wood; year-round.
Dimensions: Fruit bodies 2-5 cm wide.
Description: The nearly globose to hemispherical (but often
irregularly shaped) fruit bodies are grayish-white to pinkish-
at first. During these asexual stages the fungus releases
colorless spores called conidia
which may appear whitish en
masse. With maturity, the fruit
body becomes grayish-brown to
blackish. The surface of
mature Carbon balls may appear finely
dotted (pimple-dotted) with minute
bumps. These are the
openings of ascospore-forming structures called
below the surface. Black ascospores are
ejected from these
openings in great numbers, covering the
surface of the fruit body
and nearby surfaces. Numerous
concentric layers are revealed
when Carbon balls are sliced
Comments: Arora states that the common name "crampball"
refers to the "old folk belief that carrying one around under your
armpits would cure cramps!" Note the look-alike species in
More information at TomVolkFungi.net:
Figure 1. Mature specimens of Daldinia concentrica on
Photo © Dianna Smith.
Figure 2. These pinkish specimens are in the asexual phase.
Note the concentric zonation of the cut open specimens in
the foreground. Photo © William Roody.
Figure 3. Another specimen of Daldinia concentrica.
Any doubt as to the identity of the specimen is removed
upon slicing the fruit body open to reveal the concentric
zonation. These concentric zones are not "growth
An individual fruit body has only one period of active
ascospore discharge. Photo © Larry Grand.
Figure 4. The pimple-dotted surface of a mature Daldinia
concentrica. Each dot is the opening of an ascospore-
producing perithecium located just below the surface.
Photo © Gary Emberger.
Figure 5. A related species, Daldinia vernicosa, has a
narrowed, stemlike sterile base beneath the fertile portion.
The sectioned specimens at the right show the distinct
banding pattern of the sterile base. Photo © Steve Nelsen.