New Zealand's Native Fungi

Unique, essential, extravagant - our native fungi are truly remarkable. Surprisingly, they are not part of the plant kingdom. In fact, in some respects they have more in common with animals. Their structure is so unique that scientists now put fungi in a kingdom all of their own.

Issue information

It is believed there are over 100,000 different types of fungi, many of them visible only through the microscope. The parts we usually see are only the fruiting bodies - structures that can pop up like magic overnight, solely for producing and distributing spores. The real 'engine room' of fungi are the tiny tentacles, thin as threads that the organisms spread around their immediate vicinity to obtain their food.

Fungi are essential to the ecosystem of our forests and bush. They de-compose dead plant or animal material and recycle minerals locked up in organic material that trees and plants could not otherwise absorb.

They come in an astonishing array of shapes and vivid, even extravagant, colours. Mostly there is no real rhyme or reason for this display. It is simply that fungi do not need the chemical for photosynthesis that makes other plants mostly green because fungi feed themselves in a totally different way. Free from this restriction, they have evolved into what have been described as "the colourful hippies of the forest".

The native fungi featured in this stamp issue are considered inedible. Remember, unless you are absolutely certain about fungus the rule is look, but don't eat!

First Day Covers and a Miniature Sheet Bursting with Nature's Creativity

From the extraordinary diversoty of fungi - puff balls, jelly fungi, paint fungi, cups, brackets and more - we selected six New Zealand natives to feature in this issue. Assembled together on the first day covers and miniature sheets, they created a brilliant display of nature's creativity.

The miniature sheet also featured on a separate first day cover.

Nature's Spectacle, Multiplied

Each of the colourful stamps in the New Zealand's Native Fungi issue were also available in sheets of 25.

A Prestigious Addition to a Collection

We offered a prestigious limited edition presentation for this stamp issue that was strictly limited to 2,000 copies. The limited edition included a full set of stamps, a fascinating booklet filled with interesting facts about the issue and six stamp plate blocks. There was also a signed souvenir first day cover and a unique stamp product. This unique product for the New Zealand's Native Fungi issue was a miniature sheet that featured all six stamps, individually numbered in gold.

All images are reproduced with the kind permission of Don Horne Photography.

Product Listing for New Zealand's Native Fungi

Click on image to enlarge.

Image Title Description Price
Single Stamp

Single 40c 'Hygrocybe rubrocarnosa' gummed stamp.

One of the most vivid and eerily beautiful of our native fungi, in a classic toadstool shape, generally found in autumn in mixed forests around Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Wellington.

$0.40
Single Stamp

Single 80c 'Entoloma hochstetteri' gummed stamp.

This striking blue mushroom type fungus is found in soil, moss and on rotting wood, generally in autumn, right around the country. This species can vary from a very bright blue to duller shades.

$0.80
Single Stamp

Single 90c 'Aseroe rubra' gummed stamp.

Looking more like a sea anemone, with its waving Medusa-like petals, this is actually a scarlet flower fungus. Its spores are produced in the slimy mucus located in the centre. Found from February to May in beech and mixed forests' leaf litter.

$0.90
Single Stamp

Single $1.30 'Hericium coralloides' gummed stamp.

An icicle fungus, much-branched with many spines from each branch that are soft to the touch when young. Found through autumn and early winter in South Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Wellington and Nelson.

$1.30
Single Stamp

Single $1.50 'Thaxterogaster porphyreus' gummed stamp.

Of the mushroom types of fungi, this variety is something of an anomaly. Instead of dispersing its spores aerially by opening its cap, it attracts insects and probably birds which feed on the cap, consume the spores and distribute them through their wastes.

$1.50
Single Stamp

Single $2.00 'Ramaria aureorhiza' gummed stamp.

A 'coral' fungi. These are related to the mushrooms, but produce spores over the whole surface of the fruiting body instead of solely on the gills under the cap. Found mainly in the Waikato and Whanganui areas.

$2.00
Miniature Sheet Mint, used or cancelled miniature sheet. $6.90
First Day Cover First day cover with stamps affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $7.40
Miniature Sheet First Day Cover First day cover with miniature sheet affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $7.40
Limited Edition Limited edition collectable containing exclusive stamp products not available anywhere else. $135.00

Technical information

Date of issue: 6 March 2002
Number of stamps: Six
Denominations and designs: 40c Hygrocybe rubrocarnosa, 80c Entoloma hochstetteri, 90c Aseroe rubra, $1.30 Hericium coralloides, $1.50 Thaxterogaster porphyreus, $2.00 Ramaria aureorhiza
Stamps and first day cover designed by: DNA Design, Wellington
Printer and process: Southern Colour Print, Dunedin by offset lithography
Number of colours: Four process colours
Stamp size and format: 30mm x 40mm (vertical)
Paper type: De la Rue 103gsm red phosphor stamp paper
Perforation gauge: 14
Number of stamps per sheet: 25
Special blocks: Plate/imprint blocks could be obtained by purchasing at least six stamps from a sheet. Barcode, value blocks and logo blocks could be obtained by purchasing at least two stamps from a sheet. Barcode blocks were available in both A and B formats for sheet stamps.
Period of sale: These stamps remained on sale until 5 March 2003.