Ergot - Claviceps purpurea

    Description

    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
    Habitat

    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.

    Leicestershire & Rutland Map

    UK Map