Ergot - Claviceps purpurea


This is a violet-black spindle-shaped structure longitudinally furrowed, up to 1cm long, and formed in the inflorescences of grasses. The fungal body is described as an ergot kernel.

Identification difficulty

Amonst grasses and crops.

When to see it

July to November

Life History

In the autumn, the mature fungal body falls to the ground, over-wintering in this state until late spring; when after a period of chilling, tiny pale pinkish or purplish drumstick-shaped fruit bodies develop from it producing thread-like asco-spores. These infect other grasses belonging to several genera including some of our most important food crops.

UK Status

Common in Britain but not well recorded.

VC55 Status

Fairly common in Leicestershire and Rutland.

be our species champion

Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map