In Memoriam: Oldriska (Oluna) Ceska

July 1, 1938 – November 9, 2022 – Mycologist, Phytochemist and Botanist

Photo credit: Adolf Ceska “Smiling Oluna was the first shot of my first digital camera. I wanted to introduce the camera slowly to her, but Oluna recognized at once that I had bought a new toy. The photo caught her reaction to it.”

Oluna was born in Prague, Czech Republic, and grew up in Beroun.  She developed an early interest in natural history, and eventually ventured into botany and mycology. Oluna had a long-standing interest in art and was a keen observer. This combined with her interest in mycology resulted in the numerous, careful and detailed illustrations and descriptions of fungi that she made over a period of several decades. After completing high school Oluna entered Charles University in Prague where she studied biology and chemistry. She specialized in mycology and completed her dissertation in 1961 on the Melanconiales of Czechoslovakia.

After moving to Victoria, Canada, Oluna became associated with the Biology Department at the University of Victoria. Her work there resulted in a number of papers in phytochemistry, especially on flavonoids and coumarins. Oluna also published a number of botanical papers, including those co-authored with her life-long companion Adolf Ceska. In the late 1990s

Drawing of Kevin’s Amanita, an extreme example of Oluna’s documentation of her collections.

Oluna turned her full attention to fungi, especially fungal surveys on Vancouver Island and surrounding areas. Oluna is perhaps best known for her study of fungi on Observatory Hill, Victoria, where she carefully documented over 1400 species of fungi, all with vouchers deposited in the UBC herbarium. Oluna was a founding member of the South Vancouver Island Mycological Society, where her enthusiasm and leadership were instrumental in the development of the Society.

Mycologists who collect and documents fungi are unique in that their collections are a legacy, one that represents a time and places where they labored. Oluna’s collections represent a period in mycological history where together with Adolf, she was able to collect extensively in unique habitats, that in the future could disappear or at least substantially change. Oluna was an excellent mycologist who went about her work without a lot of fuss and bother. She was also a true colleague and friend who will be missed by all of us.

See biography here
See Oluna’s bibliography here.