GREAT BALLS OF FIRE

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - WILD DECEMBER -

These cu­ri­ous fungi make ef­fec­tive fire­lighters.

Bush craft en­thu­si­asts might know this fun­gus by yet an­other ep­i­thet: tin­der balls. This isn’t sim­ply be­cause of its sim­i­lar­i­ties to a piece of lump­wood char­coal but be­cause its des­ic­cated na­ture makes it an ex­cel­lent bed for

the sparks from a flint and steel. A less proven use is to clutch one in your armpit to re­lieve the pain of men­strual cramps – hence the name cramp ball. While it’s ined­i­ble to us, the fun­gus is feasted on by the tiny, rare con­cealer moth Harpella for­fi­cella.

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