King Alfred's cakes, also known as 'cramp balls' is a hard, inedible ball-shaped fungus (4). The visible part of the fungus, the fruit-body is initially reddish-brown in colour, but becomes black and shiny as it ages (2). The flesh is purple-brownish in colour (4), and dark concentric rings are visible when the fungus is cut open (3). The name 'cramp balls' refers to the belief that this fungus protected against cramp; men used to carry them around in their pockets for this reason (4). WARNING: Many species of fungus are poisonous or contain chemicals that can cause sickness. Never pick and eat any species of fungus that you cannot positively recognise or are unsure about. Some species are deadly poisonous and can cause death within a few hours if swallowed.
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