A new visually, artistically and taxonomically interesting book, compiled by three mycologists with links to FABI, was recently launched at a special ceremony during the Annual Spring Symposium of the CBS held at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The book was the end product of a life-long project of passion of the late Prof Walter Marasas. Prof Marasas was an extraordinary professor in FABI until his death, and also received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Pretoria some years ago.

Prof Walter Marasas, or Wally, as most people knew him, was one of the best known mycologists ever to come from South Africa. Apart from his life-long research interest in fungi, and specifically the Fusaria that produce mycotoxins, he was also a keen collector of postage stamps, especially those depicting fungi and flowering plants. After his retirement as director from PROMEC (Programme on Mycotoxins and Experimental Carcinogenesis) at the MRC (Medical Research Council) in Cape Town, Wally and his wife Rika started working on scanning the fungal stamps for the publication of a book. They requested his long-time mentees and fellow mycologists, Mike Wingfield (Director of FABI) and Pedro Crous (Extraordinary Professor in FABI and Director of the CBS-KNAW Fungal Biodiversity Centre), to assist with the project. 

The team followed a unique approach. The 1000 stamps selected for the book were not organized based on country and year as is typically the case for philatelic collections. They classified the stamps based on the taxonomic groups to which the fungi belong. Amongst others, several stamps from South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe were included depicting Termitomyces mushrooms, the highly edible fungal symbiont of termites.

Sadly, Prof Marasas passed away in June 2012 before the project was completed. However, his wife Rika, together with Mike and Pedro, in a joint effort completed the project during 2013. The book, Philatelic Mycology: Families of Fungi, is an appropriate tribute in memory of a great mycologist and was published in April this year by the CBS-KNAW Fungal Biodiversity Centre in The Netherlands. It can be ordered online from the CBS.