In praise of the colour red
In the wonderful Monterey Aquarium in California, huge aquariums, containing various jellyfish, are brightly illuminated, on a blue background. This picture shows Pacific sea nettle (Chrysaora fuscescens). (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Common glasswort (Salicornia europaea) only grows in fine-grained coastal mire, which becomes exposed at low tide. It often turns bright red in autumn, like this one, photographed in a tiny pond in a littoral meadow on the Mols Peninsula, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
True bugs, of the order Hemiptera, are called ‘true’ bugs to distinguish them from other groups of insects – and some arthropods, for that matter – which people often refer to as ‘bugs’. True bugs are a very large group of insects, with around 75,000 species worldwide. They are very diverse, but have one thing in common, namely piercing mouthparts with which they suck juice from plants or, in some cases, from other animals. Their mouthparts are contained in a beak – a so-called rostrum – which is usually held underneath the body when not in use. True bugs are often found in large congregations, densely clustered on stones, walls, or elsewhere.
Many species of true bugs are various shades of red, often with black markings. Four of these are shown below.
Mating pair of a species of true bug, possibly of the genus Dindymus, Brahmagiri Mountains, Karnataka, India. They belong to the family Pyrrhocoridae, popularly called red bugs or firebugs, which contains more than 300 species. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
True bugs, probably of the family Pyrrhocoridae, congregated on a leaf, Helambu, Nepal. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Nymphs and a few adults of Arocatus nanus, clustering on a gravestone, Taiwan. This bug belongs to Lygaeidae, a huge family with about 60 genera. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The cinnamon bug (Corizus hyoscyami) belongs to the family Rhopalidae, called scentless plant bugs, comprising 18 genera with more than 200 species. The cinnamon bug is found in most of Europe and in north-western Africa. This one, sitting on a flower-head of creeping thistle (Cirsium arvense), was photographed in Zealand, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
As its name implies, the Natal grass (Melinis repens) is native to South Africa, while it has been introduced as an ornamental, or unintentionally, to many other parts of the world. At maturity, its inflorescence is coated in white, silky hairs. These pictures are from Taiwan, where Natal grass is very common, often growing along roads or in abandoned plots, here in an abandoned parking lot in the city of Taichung. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The greatest diversity of the poppy family (Papaveraceae), comprising 42 genera with altogether c. 775 species, is found in temperate and subtropical areas of the northern hemisphere, with very few species in the tropics. Most members of this family are herbs, while a few are shrubs or small trees. Two groups of plants, which were formerly regarded as separate families, are now included in the poppy family, namely Fumariaceae, comprising e.g. corydalises, fumitories and bleeding hearts, and Pteridophyllaceae, with only one genus and one species, Pteridophyllum racemosum, found in Japan. (Read more about fumitory on this website, see Traditional medicine: Fumaria officinalis).
Many genera of the poppy family have gorgeous flowers, e.g. true poppies (Papaver), Himalayan poppies (Meconopsis), and horned poppies (Glaucium). (Read more about Himalayan poppies on this website, see In praise of the colour yellow). A large number of species, especially in the type genus Papaver, have red flowers.
As its name implies, the corn poppy (Papaver rhoeas) is a cornfield weed. It used to be very common in Europe, but has declined drastically in later years, due to more efficient farming methods, using herbicides. In 2005, on the island of Öland, Sweden, I encountered this barley field, full of corn poppies and long-headed poppies (P. dubium). The field may have been organically cultivated. The corn poppy can be identified by its dark red colour, and by the black-and-white blotches at the base of the petals. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The long-headed poppy (Papaver dubium) is widely distributed in Temperate Eurasia, often found in large numbers on recently abandoned fields or along newly established roads. In the upper picture, many plants have taken root along a house wall in the town of Sandvig, Bornholm, Denmark, and in the bottom one, a poppy seed has sprouted in a mole hill in a lawn on the island of Funen, Denmark. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The prickly-headed poppy (Papaver argemone) is a native of Temperate Eurasia, east to Ukraine and the Caucasus, and in North Africa. Like the corn poppy, this species has black blotches at the base of the petals, but it is a much more delicate plant, with stiff hairs on stem and fruit. The upper picture is from Skåne, Sweden, the lower one from Jutland, Denmark. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Papaver apulum is found in south-eastern Europe and the Middle East. It is very common in western Turkey, often forming large growths. In these pictures, it grows among the Ancient Greek ruins at Troy. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Horned poppies, genus Glaucium, are named after their horn-shaped fruits. The flower colour of the red horned poppy (G. corniculatum), which is distributed from southern Europe east to Central Asia, varies from dark red to dark orange, the latter seen in this photograph from western Turkey. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
A bust of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, birth name Ali Rıza oğlu Mustafa (1881-1938), founder of the Republic of Turkey and its first president 1923-1938, can just be glimpsed behind a collection of Turkish flags, stretched across a street in Istanbul. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) has a circumpolar distribution, mainly found in arctic and northern temperate areas, confined to mountains near the southern limits of its occurrence. Incidentally, the Greek generic name Arctostaphylos, as well as the Latin specific name uva-ursi, mean ‘bear-grape’, which of course refers to the bright red berries. Traditionally, these berries have been utilized as folk medicine.
Fruiting bearberry, growing among moss, Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, Oregon, United States. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
In former days, redstarts were regarded as small thrushes, belonging to the family Turdidae. However, DNA research has revealed that they are in fact flycatchers of the family Muscicapidae. The Daurian redstart (Phoenicurus auroreus) breeds in south-eastern Siberia, from Lake Baikal eastwards to Amurland, Ussuriland, and Sakhalin, and in Mongolia, Tibet, most of China, and northern Korea, wintering in southern China, Japan, Taiwan, north-eastern India, and Southeast Asia. Like most of the 14 species in the genus Phoenicurus, it is strongly sexually dimorphic, males having red breast, belly, and tail, black face, throat, and back, greyish crown and nape, and a prominent white wing-patch, while females are pale brown with an orange-red tail, and, like the male, a prominent white wing-patch.
The Daurian redstart is a common winter visitor in Taiwan. These pictures, depicting a male and a female, are from Tunghai University Park, Taichung. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Thakali women, clad in traditional dress, celebrate the local new year by dancing the ‘Mothers’ Dance’ in a house in the village of Marpha, Kali Gandaki Valley, Annapurna, Nepal. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
This Geoffroy’s spider monkey, or black-handed spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi), is feeding on a bright red, coffee-like fruit in the rain forest of Tortuguero National Park, Limón, Costa Rica. This species is distributed from southern Mexico, across Central America to westernmost Colombia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The gorgeous white waterlily (Nymphaea alba) has a very wide distribution, found in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and parts of Temperate Asia, east to Kashmir, northern India. In America, it is replaced by the very similar fragarant waterlily (N. odorata), which is also widely distributed, from northern Canada through the United States, Mexico, and Central America to northern South America. – A picture of blue waterlily (N. caerulea) is found elsewhere on this website, see: In praise of the colour blue.
Usually, the leaves of white waterlily are various shades of green, but, for some reason, this leaf in a pond on the island of Fanø, Denmark, has turned yellowish-red. The green stems in the foreground are common spike-rush (Eleocharis palustris). (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) is a gorgeous species of spurge, which is a native of Mexico, but has been introduced as a garden and house plant all over the world. The name poinsettia was given in honour of Joel Roberts Poinsett (1779-1851), the first United States Minister to Mexico, who introduced the plant to the U.S. in 1825. In Mexico and Guatemala, poinsettia is called Flor de Noche Buena, meaning ‘Flower of the Good Night’ (i.e. Christmas Eve). In Spain, it is known as Flor de Pascua (‘Easter flower’), while in Chile and Peru, it is called La Corona de los Andes (‘Crown of the Andes’). From the 17th Century, Franciscan monks in Mexico included the plant in their Christmas celebrations. The star-shaped leaf pattern was said to symbolize the Star of Bethlehem, while the red color represented the blood of the crucified Jesus. (Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poinsettia)
Bright red bracts of poinsettia, Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The red-and-yellow barbet (Trachyphonus erythrocephalus) is aptly named, as its plumage is predominantly red and yellow. This gorgeous bird is found in East Africa, from South Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia, south to northern Tanzania. Its feathers are used ornamentally by several tribal peoples, e.g. the Masaai. – This picture is from Shaba National Park, Kenya. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Swedish botanist Carl von Linné (1707-1778) – also called Carolus Linnaeus – found a species of climbing lily so magnificent that he named it Gloriosa superba. Common names include flame lily, climbing lily, glorious lily, and tiger claw. This species, which has now been placed in the family Colchicaceae, is distributed over huge areas of Tropical Africa and Asia. It is very poisonous, having been utilized to commit murder and suicide, and to kill animals.
Glorious flowers of Gloriosa superba, Zimbabwe. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
During the Hindu spring festival of Holi, or ‘festival of colours’, one of the activities of devout Hindus is to smear each other with dyed powders. In Charbhuja, Rajasthan, where this picture was taken, this festival lasts 15 days. – More about Hindu festivals in Rajasthan is found on this website, see Travel episodes 1986-1994: India 1991. – About Hinduism, see Religion: Hinduism. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Bright red young leaves of Campbell’s maple (Acer campbellii), Annapurna, central Nepal. This species is distributed from western Nepal, across the Himalaya east to Myanmar, and north to the Chinese provinces of Yunnan and Sichuan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The red-legged, or grey, cormorant (Phalacrocorax gaimardi) occurs along South American coasts, from Peru south to Chile, and in the Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. The generic name is from the Greek, phalakros (‘bald’), and korax (‘raven’), where bald refers to the white crown of a related species, P. carbo, during the breeding season. The specific name was given in honour of Joseph Paul Gaimard (1793-1858), French naturalist and naval surgeon.
This pair of red-legged cormorant were photographed at Chanaral, Chile. They are in breeding plumage, displaying their bright red lores. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Chinese tallow-tree (Triadica sebifera, formerly Sapium sebiferum), is a small tree of the spurge family (Euphorbiaceae), which is native to eastern China, Taiwan, and Japan. The specific name sebifera means ‘wax-bearing’, referring to the tallow, which coats the seeds. Candles and soap are made from this wax, and this was the reason, why the tree was introduced into the United States in the 1700s. In the 1900s, it was widely planted along the Gulf Coast by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in an attempt to establish a soap-making industry. Since then, it has spread beyond control and is today regarded as a serious pest in south-eastern U.S., expelling native plant species. In the Orient, the leaves of tallow-tree are used in traditional medicine for treating boils. The sap and leaves are reputed to be toxic, and decaying leaves from the plant are toxic to other plants, inhibiting their growth. In winter, leaves of the tallow-tree turn various shades of red, from orange to wine-red.
These pictures are from Taiwan, where Chinese tallow-tree is very common. Its white seeds are eaten by various bird species, e.g. grey treepie (Dendrocitta formosae) (bottom). This bird is presented elsewhere on this website, see Animals: Birds in Taiwan. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Reddish evening light on skyscrapers, Taichung, Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The huge scarlet macaw (Ara macao), which can grow to 80 centimetres long, including its long tail, is a gorgeous species of parrot, native to forests of Latin America, from southern Mexico south to Peru and Brazil. This one is eating fruits of a tree near Capo Matapalo, Peninsula de Osa, Costa Rica. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Lion sculptures are often seen outside Daoist temples in Taiwan, guarding the temple against evil forces. These lions, adorned with red ribbons, were photographed outside the Donglong Temple in Donggang, Taiwan. – Read more about Daoism on this website, see Religion: Daoism in Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
A fallen fruit of Sloanea ampla, displaying its bright red, fleshy aril. This tropical tree, of the family Elaeocarpaceae, which grows to 30 metres tall, is found in montane forests between Mexico and western Panama. Its Spanish name is peine de mico (‘monkey comb’), referring to the spiny fruits. – Santa Elena Cloud Forest, Cordillera de Tilarán, Costa Rica. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Mankind has utilized red iron oxide as dyeing pigment for thousands of years, known from e.g. the cave paintings of southern France and northern Spain. The knowledge that metal oxides are often found in pits, containing sulphurous ore, is also very old. The well-known ‘Swedish-red’, so common on wooden houses in Sweden, originated in copper mining in Falun, Dalarna. After being dried, the mud from the mining gives a yellow colour, which, after being heated, turns red. In a letter to the manager of construction at Stockholm Castle, King Johann III (1537-1592) notes that he should order ‘rust lead’ or ‘pit bran’, as the king wanted all roofs of his castle to be painted red. In Sweden, in the 1600s, it was still unusual to paint your house, and tar was mixed with the colour pigments to conserve the wood. During the 1700s, industrial production of the red pigment started in earnest. From 1764, the dye was produced at the Falu Gruva in Falun, and in the 1800s, it became increasingly common for laymen to paint their houses with it. In 1861, 900 tons were produced, and in the 1900s, production varied between 1000 and 2000 tons. In 1992, Falu Gruva closed down after more than a thousand years of pit-mining – only production of the red dye continued. In 2012, about 500 tons of pigment was produced, corresponding to 1,900,000 liters of ’Swedish-red’ paint. (Source: falurodfarg.com/om-foretaget/det-finns-bara-en-falu-rodfarg). – Below, four pictures of ‘Swedish-red’ buildings are shown.
Farm house, Gillsätra, Öland, Sweden. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Stensjö By, north of Oscarshamn, Småland, Sweden. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
House in Valparaiso, Chile. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Farm house, northwest of Kalmar, south-eastern Sweden. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Dawn, Long Island, United States. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Idesia polycarpa is a tree of the willow family (Salicaceae), growing in montane areas of China, Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. In Taiwan, from January to March, this tree displays an abundance of red berries, which draw birds like a magnet, e.g. vivid niltava (Niltava vivida), Taiwan thrush (Turdus niveiceps) – formerly considered a subspecies of island thrush (T. poliocephalus) – and Taiwan barbet (Psilopogon nuchalis).
Idesia polycarpa, Dasyueshan National Forest, central Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Piggy banks for sale in a shop in the Old Town, San José, Costa Rica. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The scarlet sage (Salvia coccinea) – a native of Central America – is widely cultivated as an ornamental because of its beautiful flowers, often becoming naturalized. This one was photographed in Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Formerly, the black bulbuls of Mainland Asia were regarded as subspecies of the Malagasy bulbul (Hypsipetes madagascariensis), but most authorities now recognize two separate Asian species, the Asian black bulbul (H. leucocephalus), which is widely distributed, found from north-eastern Afghanistan along the Himalaya to Indochina, China, and Taiwan, and the square-tailed bulbul (H. ganeesa), which is restricted to montane areas of South India and Sri Lanka. The Asian black bulbul is predominantly black, or slate-black, bill and gape are bright read, and the feet are orange. Sometimes, white-headed morphs are seen. The specific name leucocephalus is from the Greek leukos (‘white’), and kephalos (‘head’), so this species must have been described from a white-headed specimen.
Asian Black bulbul, of the Taiwanese subspecies nigerrimus, Tunghai University Park, Taichung. Bill and gape of this species are bright read, and the feet are orange. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Black bulbuls, drinking from a stream, Tunghai University Park. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Black bulbul, feeding in an African tulip tree flower (Spathodea campanulata), likewise in Tunghai University Park. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The Himalayan subspecies of Asian black bulbul, psaroides, differs from other subspecies by being pale slate-grey, and having a grey cheek-patch. This bird was photographed in Kabeli Valley, eastern Nepal. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Rhodophiala advena, a gorgeous member of the amaryllis family, is endemic to lower slopes of the Andes, central Chile. This one was photographed in Reserva Nacional Altos de Lircay. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Glorious evening sky over Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
This species of saxifrage, Saxifraga brunonis, is identified by its long, red runners. Following a heavy shower, raindrops are clinging to the tangled mess of runners on this plant, photographed in the Rolwaling Valley, central Nepal. – More about plant life in the Rolwaling Valley is found on this website, see Plants: Plant hunting in the Himalaya – Rainy season in Nepal. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Plants of the genus Calochortus can be divided into three distinct groups: mariposa tulips, or mariposa lilies, which have open, wedge-shaped petals; globe lilies with globe-shaped flowers; and cat’s ears and star tulips, which have erect, pointed petals. These gorgeous lilies are almost exclusively found in the western United States. The generic name is from the Greek kalos (‘beautiful’) and chortos (‘grass’). – More pictures of these lilies may be seen elsewhere on this website, see: Quotes on nature.
This bright red Kennedy’s mariposa tulip (Calochortus kennedyi), growing in Saguaro West National Park, Arizona, contrasts sharply with the greyish desert soil. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Nepalese raspberry (Rubus nepalensis) is very common in the Himalaya, creeping along the ground in open forests and near trails. Its berries are very tasty, at the same time sweet and slightly acid. In the lower left corner of the photograph are clubmosses (Lycopodium), and the blue flower is Cyanotis vaga, a member of the dayflower family (Commelinaceae). – Helambu, central Nepal. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
After blooming, shining cranesbill (Geranium lucidum) often turns bright magenta. This species is native to Europe, North Africa, and western Asia. It has also been introduced to North America as a garden plant and has become naturalized in many places, particularly along the Pacific, where it is regarded as an invasive. – In this picture, a shining cranesbill is growing in a crack on a rock face, on the island of Bornholm, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Hart Bridge, from c. 1864, a wooden lattice truss bridge, 52 metres long, 4.6 metres wide, spanning the Housatonic River, West Cornwall, Connecticut, United States. This bridge was made from red spruce (Picea rubens) timber, and wooden pegs, or trunnels, were used for assembling the timbers. – Other pictures of covered bridges – and other types of bridges – are found on this website, see Culture: Bridges. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Young plants of a species of Tillandsia, of the pineapple family (Bromeliaceae), Cordillera de Tilarán, Costa Rica. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
During the Daoist Boat Burning Festival, in Jiading, Kaoshiung, S Taiwan, this pilgrim is carrying fake swords across his back. For this festival, a complete replica of a traditional wooden cargo boat is built, later to be burned as an offering to Wang-yeh, the God of Plague, thus hoping he will save the people from the plague and other dreadful diseases. Formerly, the burning boat was pushed out to sea, symbolically carrying the diseases away, but this practice has now been abandoned, and the boat is burned on land. – Read more about Daoism on this website, see Religion: Daoism in Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The scarlet flowers of claret cup cactus (Echinocereus triglochidatus) seem almost too delicate to survive in the harsh environment of the Mohave Desert. – Joshua Tree National Park, California, United States. – More pictures of cactus species are found on this website, see Gallery: Plants – Cacti. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Choughs, of the genus Pyrrhocorax, are jet-black members of the crow family (Corvidae), identified by their brightly coloured bill and feet, and by their calls, which have given them their English name. The red-billed chough (P. pyrrhocorax) is a bit larger than the Alpine, or yellow-billed (P. graculus), with a longer, red bill. Both species are widely distributed in Europe, northern Africa, and Asia, the red-billed in Morocco, Spain, Ireland, Wales, France, the Alps, Italy, the Balkans, the Middle East, and large parts of Central Asia, with an isolated population in the highlands of Ethiopia. – The Alpine chough is presented in depth elsewhere on this website, see: In praise of the colour yellow.
These pictures are from Nepal, where the red-billed chough is very common, often seen feeding in newly ploughed fields. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The gorgeous fireball, or blood lily (Scadoxus multiflorus), is widely distributed throughout eastern and southern Africa. – Matobo National Park, Zimbabwe. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Slender girl in a red sari, Seventri, Rajasthan, India. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Picked fruits of roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa), Taiwan. – Read more about roselle on this website, see Traditional medicine – Hibiscus sabdariffa. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Young parts of this fern leaf are red, later turning green. – Annapurna, C Nepal. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
This species of grass, the soft brome (Bromus hordeaceus), is very common in Europe and western Asia, and has also become naturalized in North America, where it is known as bull grass or soft cheat. In this picture, a fruiting soft brome is casting long shadows on a fisherman’s shed near Roskilde Fjord, Zealand, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Pacific madrone (Arbutus menziesii), which is also called Pacific strawberry tree, is found along the North American Pacific coast, from British Columbia south to California. The specific name honours Scottish naturalist Archibald Menzies (1754-1842), who participated, as surgeon and botanist, in an expedition around the world on board HMS Discovery, under leadership of Captain George Vancouver (1757-1798). On this trip, Menzies collected many plant species, among others Pacific madrone.
A fallen leaf of Pacific madrone, showing ‘autumn’ colours, Salt Point State Park, California. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Whatever Indian village women are doing, they always bring their baby along. This woman has been collecting firewood in the forest. – Keoladeo National Park, Rajasthan, India. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Sculpture, depicting a guardian, outside a Hindu temple near Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. A devotee has placed Chinese hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) in his ears as an offering – or maybe as decoration. – Read more about Hinduism on this website, see Religion: Hinduism. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Young red leaves of a species of fern, Woodwardia unigemmata, which belongs to the hard fern family, Blechnaceae. – Mingtsih, Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Wine-red autumn foliage of vine maple (Acer circinatum), Umpqua National Forest, Oregon, United States. This maple is native to the Pacific coast of North America, from British Columbia south to northern California. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Most authorities regard Jerdon’s minivet (Pericrocotus jerdoni), found in Myanmar, as a subspecies of white-bellied minivet (P. erythropygius), which has a patchy distribution in India. The male can be told from the female by its red chest spot. – Bagan, Myanmar. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
A parasitic mistletoe, Tristerix aphylla, growing on the trunk of a copao cactus (Eulychnia acida), Valle del Encanto, Ovalle, Chile (top), and on a quisco cactus (Echinopsis chiloensis), south of Vallenar, Chile. – More pictures of cactus species are found on this website, see Gallery: Plants – Cacti. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The bracts of red ginger (Alpinia purpurata) are bright red, whereas the flowers are white. This species is native to Indonesia, New Guinea, and Polynesia, but has been introduced as an ornamental to most warm countries of the world. This photograph is from Peninsula de Osa, Costa Rica. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
A gorgeous male Hobart’s red glider (Cymothoe hobarti), basking on a leaf in Kakamega Forest, Kenya. This Central African Nymphalid is found in lowland forests, from Central African Republic and Zaire, east to Kenya and Tanzania. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The eastern burningbush (Euonymus atropurpureus) is native to eastern North America, primarily found in a huge area south of the Great Lakes, but with small, scattered populations elsewhere, from Minnesota and Ontario south to Texas and Georgia. It is also widely cultivated. Formerly, the powdered bark was used by native tribes and pioneers as a purgative. This picture shows flaming autumn foliage and fruits of an eastern burningbush in Massachusetts. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Bright red ‘fruits’ of British soldiers (Cladonia floerkeana), Jutland, Denmark. Other names of this species of cup lichen are Devil’s matchstick and Bengal matches. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The genus Rhododendron is huge, comprising c. 1,025 species worldwide. In the Greek, rhododendron means ‘rose tree’. It seems that to the ancient Greeks, the flowers clusters of certain species resembled roses, but the two genera are not even distantly related, as rhododendrons belong to the heath family (Ericaceae). – Read more about these beautiful plants elsewhere on this website, see Plants: Rhododendrons.
Rhododendron thomsonii, photographed in the Ghunsa Valley, eastern Nepal, is easily identified by its red calyx and wax-like flowers. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Flowers of Rhododendron arboreum, covered in raindrops after a monsoon shower, Ghunsa Valley, eastern Nepal. This species, which can grow up to 15 metres tall, is the national plant of Nepal, called lali guras. It is very common in the Himalaya, and in March-April, when it is flowering, parts of the forest show a reddish or pinkish tinge, stemming from millions of flowers. The intensity of the red colour of the flowers decreases, as you move higher, and near the upper limit of its distribution, you sometimes encounter trees with white flowers. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Most of the 30 Taiwanese rhododendron species grow at high altitudes in the central part of the country, but Rhododendron oldhamii (shown here) is found at lower altitudes, here photographed on the lower slopes of the mountain Wuwowei Shan, near Guguan. The flowers of this species are a warm red, while most other Taiwanese species display white, pinkish or violet flowers. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Raindrops hang like pearls on autumn leaves and fruits of common dogwood (Cornus sanguinea), Valle Tena, Aragon, Spain. This dogwood is found in Europe, from England and southern Scandinavia south to Spain, southern Italy and Greece, and eastwards to Ukraine and the Caucasus. It is widely cultivated as an ornamental. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
To praise the Lord Buddha, red candles are ignited at the Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon, Myanmar. – Read more about the Shwedagon Pagoda – and about Buddhism in general – on this website, see Religion: Buddhism. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
This leaf of a species of knotweed (Polygonum) has been attacked by fungi, causing colourful spots to form. – Ammashan, Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Despite its name, the western poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum, formerly Rhus diversiloba) is not even distantly related to oaks, as it belongs to the sumac family (Anacardiaceae). The name was given due to the similarity of its leaves to oak leaves. This species is very common in far western North America, along the Pacific Coast. As with other members of this genus, touching poison oak causes rashes and other allergic reactions in some people. In his excellent book The Green Pharmacy, American botanist and herbalist James A. Duke (1929-2017) recommends the juice of soapwort (Saponaria officinalis) as the best remedy, if you have been into contact with poison oak or other Toxicodendron species. Smear the juice over the affected area to get rid of the toxic urushiol.
Autumn foliage of western poison oak, photographed in Umpqua National Forest, Oregon, United States. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Almost all crane species have naked red parts on the crown or in the face, sometimes also on the neck. Only the heads of demoiselle crane (Anthropoides virgo) and blue crane (A. paradisea) are completely feathered. – Read more about cranes elsewhere on this website, see Travel episodes: China 2009 – Among black-necked cranes, and Animals: Sandhill cranes are a threat to Siberian breeding birds.
The Eurasian crane (Grus grus) breeds from Scandinavia and the Baltic States, east across the entire Siberian taiga, with a patchy distribution in the remaining part of Europe, Turkey, the Caucasus, and Tibet. This picture is from Lake Hornborgasjön, Sweden, which is visited by up to 10,000 cranes in March-April, resting here on their way to their breeding grounds. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The sarus crane (Grus antigone), here photographed in Keoladeo National Park, Rajasthan, India, is connected with the Hindu goddess Baglamukhi, who has a crane’s head. This goddess is a master of black magic and all kinds of killing, using poison. Although the Indians revere this bird for religious reasons, it has declined drastically in later years due to draining, cultivation, urban development, industrial pollution, and an increased usage of chemical pesticides. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Androsace, or rock-jasmines, are closely related to primroses (Primula), but can be told from that genus by their very short corolla-tube (a tube, formed by the petals). This genus is found across the Northern Hemisphere, and in montane areas they are ubiquitous. Many species are mat-forming, e.g. Androsace muscoidea, shown here. – Dhela, Great Himalayan National Park, Himachal Pradesh, India. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Rusted tin sheets on a wall, Valparaiso, Chile. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Ourisia ruelloides – by some authorities called Ourisia poeppigii – is a member of the plantain family (Plantaginaceae), which is native to montane areas of Chilean and Argentinian Andes, up to an altitude of about 1,600 metres. In Spanish, this gorgeous plant is aptly named la flor de las cascadas (‘waterfall flower’), as it grows along fast-flowing streams. This one was photographed in Parque Nacional Conguillio, Chile. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The red cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) is very common in North America. This male is resting atop a spiny saguaro cactus (Carnegiea gigantea). – Arizona, United States. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Seed-heads of a grass species appear red in the setting sun, Lago Atitlan, Guatemala. In the background San Pedro Volcano (3,020 m). – Read more about Guatemala on this website, see Travel episodes: Guatemala 1998 – Land of the Mayans. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
These Mewar people have scattered thousands of chili peppers (Capsicum frutescens) in the desert sands of the Thar Desert, Rajasthan, north-western India, to make them dry in the sun, adding marvellous patches of crimson to the drab surroundings. – Read more about chili on this website, see Traditional medicine – Capsicum. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
There are about 110 species of Fuchsia shrubs, the vast majority found in South America, a few in Central America and Mexico, and also some in the Pacific, as far west as New Zealand. The flowers of most species are various shades of red, orange, or purple, while some species are white or yellowish. In many species, the sepals are bright red and the petals purple – colours, which attract the hummingbirds that pollinate the flowers. The first species was described from the island of Hispaniola by a French monk and botanist, Charles Plumier (1646-1704), during his third expedition to the Greater Antilles 1696-1697. He named this new genus after German botanist Leonhard Fuchs (1501-1566), who wrote a book about herbal medicine, published in Latin in 1542. (Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuchsia)
Today, Fuchsia species are commonly cultivated all over the world as ornamentals. This one was seen in Dingle, western Ireland. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Bright red fruits of red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa), Gavarnie, Pyrenees, France. This species has a very wide distribution, found in Europe, northern Temperate Asia, and across northern North America. Its habitats are open forests, along rivers, and other open areas, generally in moist conditions. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The gorgeous red passion flower (Passiflora vitifolia) is found in Central America and north-western South America, from Nicaragua south to Peru. It is also cultivated in the Caribbean because of its fragrant fruit. Due to its red colour, it is often pollinated by hummingbirds. The specific name vitifolia refers to the shape of its leaves, resembling grape vine leaves, while the name passion flower is linked with the Passion – the last days of the life of Jesus Christ. According to legend, a passion plant wound up the cross, on which Jesus was crucified, its leaves providing coolness and shade for the dying man. Another legend has it that it was Spanish 15th Century missionaries, who first interpreted the unique physical structure of the passion flower as symbols connected with the Crucifixion. The ten petals and sepals represent the ten faithful apostles, excluding Peter who denied Jesus three times after his arrest, and Judas who betrayed him. The many filaments are regarded as representing the crown of thorns, and the pistil either the cross or the Holy Grail. The three stigmas represent the three nails, and the five anthers beneath them the five wounds of Christ (four from the nails and one from the lance, piercing his side). The pointed leaves were said to represent the Holy Lance, and the tendrils the whips used in the flagellation of Jesus. The three bracts beneath the sepals were seen as symbols of the three Marys, who were present, when Jesus died, while the blue colour of many passion flowers is seen as Virgin Mary’s blue dress.
Red passion flower, Reserva Nacional Hacienda Baru, Costa Rica. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla) is a gull with a very wide distribution as a breeding bird across the North Atlantic. Each pair builds a nest of plants and seaweeds on a tiny ledge on a steep cliff, here on Rauðanupur (‘Red Cliff’), northern Iceland. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
A red slug (Arion rufus) creeps down a log in Denmark. Formerly, this species was confined to southern Europe, but during the Middle Ages monks introduced it to northern Europe. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Dressed in colourful saris, these village women are on their way to attend Hindu New Year at a temple in Charbhuja, Rajasthan, India, dedicated to the monkey god, Hanuman. – More about Hindu festivals in Rajasthan is found on this website, see Travel episodes 1986-1994: India 1991. – About Hinduism, see Religion: Hinduism. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Terminalia orbicularis is a small tree of the leadwood family (Combretaceae), growing to 8 metres tall. It is found in a rather limited area of eastern Africa, from Ethiopia south to Kenya. When in fruit, it is easily identified by its wine-red fruits, adorned with a broad membrane all the way around. This fruit was photographed in Shaba National Park, Kenya. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Resting in a cactus-like spurge (Euphorbia) in front of a ruined pagoda in Bagan, Myanmar, this red-vented bulbul (Pycnonotus cafer) clearly shows, why it got this name. – Read more about this species on this website, see Nature: Invasive species. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Selling colourful dyes at a market, Sonpur, Bihar, India. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The plant genus Castilleja, commonly known as Indian paintbrush or prairie-fire, comprises about 200 species, most with brilliant red flowers and bracts, a few with orange, yellow, or violet. They are native to the western parts of the Americas, from Alaska south to the Andes, with one species, C. pallida, found across Siberia, south to the Altai Mountains and west to the Kola Peninsula. These parasitic plants, belonging to the broomrape family (Orobanchaceae), obtain part of their nutrients from roots of other plants. The flowers of Indian paintbrush are edible and were formerly consumed by various native tribes, but as these plants have a tendency to absorb and concentrate selenium in their tissue, roots and green parts can be very toxic. (Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castilleja). The pictures below show five species from western United States.
The desert paintbrush (Castilleja chromosa, also called C. angustifolia) is quite common in arid areas, from the Pacific States east to Wyoming and Colorado, and from northern Idaho south to the Mexican border. In this picture, it adds a splash of colour to the bleak desert environment in Monument Valley, Arizona. The rock formation in the background is Elephant Butte. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The coast paintbrush (Castilleja affinis) is native to the Pacific States, from Washington south to Baja California, growing on slopes along the coast and inland. – Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness Park, Santa Ana Mountains, California. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The Monterey paintbrush (Castilleja latifolia) is endemic to the Californian Pacific Coast, from San Francisco Bay south to the Monterey area, growing in coastal shrub and on sand dunes. This picture is from Garrapata State Park, south of Monterey. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Woolly paintbrush (Castilleja lanata) is widely distributed, from California east across Arizona and New Mexico to Texas. This picture is from Pinnacles National Monument, California. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Bracts of the Texas paintbrush (Castilleja indivisa) vary from bright red to reddish-purple, while the flowers are white or green. This species is endemic to Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. – Gilchrist, Texas. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
This colourful village woman is spreading manure in a field near Sauraha, S Nepal. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Columnea consanguinea, of the gloxinia family (Gesneriaceae), is a woody herb, growing to 1 metre tall. It is easily recognized by the red blotches on the underside of its leaves, which are the cause of the specific name consanguinea, meaning ‘with blood’. This species has a rather limited distribution, found only in Costa Rica and Panama. This picture is from Cordillera de Tilarán, Costa Rica. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
A recent shower has adorned the red autumn foliage of this bog bilberry (Vaccinium uliginosum), growing on the mountain Fornastaðafjall, near Akureyri, northern Iceland, with countless ‘pearls’. This species has an enormous distribution, found in northern temperate and arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere, besides isolated populations in montane areas, e.g. the Pyrenees, the Alps and the Caucasus in Europe, the Sierra Nevada and the Rocky Mountains in North America, and mountains in Mongolia, China, Korea, and Japan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
This sculpture is a chaitya, depicting four meditating Buddhas. Devout Buddhists have adorned it with red dye and a Chinese hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis). – Swayambhunath Stupa, Kathmandu, Nepal. – Read more about chaityas – and about Buddhism in general – on this website, see Religion: Buddhism. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Paper lanterns in a Daoist temple, Taichung, Taiwan. – Read more about Daoism on this website, see Religion: Daoism in Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The Indian cobra (Naja naja) is sacred to Hindus, revered as a god, Naga. Offerings of rice and red dye has been placed on this sculpture of Naga. – Kathmandu, Nepal. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Autumn foliage of Photinia niitakayamensis, photographed on Lulin Mountain, Yu Shan, Taiwan. This small tree of the rose family (Rosaceae), growing to 4 metres tall, is endemic to montane areas of Taiwan. Formerly, it was called Stranvaesia niitakayamensis, but all Stranvaesia species have been moved to the genus Photinia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Little Hindu girl, wearing her finest dress, and a red ribbon in her hair. – Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
As its name implies, the foliage of scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea) turns scarlet in the autumn. This species grows mainly in dry, acidic soils, found in eastern and central United States, from Maine south to Georgia, and westwards to Missouri and Louisiana. – This picture is from Caleb Smith State Park, Long Island. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
This withering leaf of water dock (Rumex hydrolapathum), growing at a lakeside on the island of Zealand, Denmark, displays gorgeous colours. This, the largest of the dock species, growing to 2 metres tall, is found in wetlands all over Europe and western Asia, eastwards to western Himalaya. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Bullfight, Sevilla, Andalucia, Spain. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Grasshopper among gravel, Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Tribal street vendor, selling coconuts and various flowers, e.g. Chinese hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) and marigolds (Tagetes), to be presented as offerings in a Hindu temple, Sabari River, Odisha (Orissa), India – More pictures of Indian tribals are found on this website, see Gallery: People – Tribals of India. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Sneakers, drying outside a door, Lugang, Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
At dusk, great numbers of straw-coloured fruit-bats (Eidolon helvum) leave their day roost in Kasanka National Park, Zambia, in search of ripe fruit. This species is the commonest African fruit-bat, found in sub-Saharan savannas and forest, south to South Africa, and also in the south-western part of the Arabian Peninsula. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
This leaf displays a multitude of colours. – Pokhara, Nepal. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
A huge sack of apples, adorned with red plastic flowers, is being transported by donkey to a market in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Buddhist monks on their morning round to collect food from people, Bagan, Myanmar. – Read more about Buddhism on this website, see Religion: Buddhism. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Red paper lanterns in Song Bo Chin, a Daoist temple in Ershuei, Taiwan. In Chinese mythology, the dragon is a symbol of power, strength, and good luck, and Daoist temples abound with images of these creatures. – Read more about Daoism on this website, see Religion: Daoism in Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Red autumn leaf of dewberry (Rubus caesius). This species has a very wide distribution, from Ireland and Portugal in the west, eastwards to Central Asia. In Denmark, where this picture was taken, it is abundant in open forests, as well as in shrublands and fallow fields. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
A white-legged black beetle, feeding in flowers of fireball, or blood lily (Scadoxus multiflorus), Matobo National Park, Zimbabwe. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The white-fleshed pitaya cactus (Hylocereus undatus) has been cultivated for hundreds of years, and its place of origin is not known. It has many other English names, such as night-blooming Cereus, strawberry pear, belle-of-the-night, Cinderella plant, and Jesus-in-the-cradle. In Chinese, the delicious fruit is called 火龙果 (‘red dragon fruit’). Incidentally, white-fleshed pitaya is not a very good name for this species, as one variety has red flesh. – More pictures of cactus species are found on this website, see Gallery: Plants – Cacti. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The native area of the beach almond (Terminalia catappa) – also known as country almond, Indian almond, Talisay tree, and umbrella tree – is unknown. Today, this species is widely distributed in most tropical and some subtropical areas of the world, growing in a wide range of habitats. Three of its popular names stem from the similarity of its fruits to those of the true almond (Prunus amygdalus), but the two species are not at all related, the true almond belonging to the rose family (Rosaceae), while beach almond belongs to the family Combretaceae. – Other pictures of this species are found elsewhere on this website, see Nature: Nature’s patterns.
In Taiwan, where these pictures were taken, beach almond is widely planted as an ornamental tree. The two lower pictures show upper surface and underside of a leaf, respectively. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Mating red-legged millipeds, Rondo Forest, southern Tanzania. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Dilapidated barn, Washington, New Jersey, United States. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Colourful yards of cloth for sale in a market, Old Bagan, Myanmar. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
In autumn, hardwood forests of north-eastern United States are a spectacle to behold, when the foliage of a number of trees, including sugar maple (Acer saccharum) and red maple (A. rubrum), display an array of red and yellow. Especially gorgeous is the foliage of red maple, which turns a brilliant orange, scarlet, or yellow – or sometimes all three colours on the same leaf. This tree, also known as swamp maple, water maple, or soft maple, is one of the most abundant and widespread broad-leaved trees in eastern and central North America, distributed from Newfoundland south to Florida, westwards to Manitoba, Minnesota, and eastern Texas. It is very adaptable, growing in various types of soil, from swamps to dry areas, and from sea level to about 900 metres altitude. – Many more autumn pictures from New England, as well as other places, are found elsewhere on this website, see Gallery: Nature – Autumn.
Autumn forest, Williamstown, Massachusetts. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Autumn forest, Catskills, New York State. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Brilliant autumn colours on leaves of red maple, Adirondacks, New York State. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Prettily arranged rose petals and daisies (Chrysanthemum) are displayed for sale, Haridwar, Uttarakhand, India. They are bought by Hindu pilgrims, who present them as offerings in temples. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
A newly hatched red admiral (Vanessa atalanta), feeding on a fallen apple, Jutland, Denmark. This species is distributed over an enormous area, found in Eurasia, North Africa, North and Central America, Caribbean Islands, Hawaii, and New Zealand. Incidentally, in later years, it has expanded its breeding area further north in Europe. Formerly, it was a late-summer visitor to Denmark and southern Sweden, migrating from further south. Today, however, it breeds in these areas, being able to overwinter. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
A male eastern miombo sunbird (Cinnyris manoensis), hanging head down in a tree, Chimanimani National Park, Zimbabwe. This species, which is found in eastern Africa, from southern Tanzania south to central Moçambique, was formerly regarded as conspecific with the western miombo sunbird (C. gertrudi), under the name of miombo double-collared sunbird. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
A gorgeous four-coloured bush-shrike (Telophorus viridis ssp. nigricauda), beating its wings, Rondo Forest, southern Tanzania. Four subspecies of Telophorus viridis, formerly known under the name T. quadricolor, are distributed across southern Africa, from Gabon, Zaire, and Kenya, south to South Africa. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The magnificent Utah penstemon (Penstemon utahensis) is a native of south-western United States, where it grows in shrublands and deserts. This one was photographed in Monument Valley, Arizona, adding a glow to the otherwise bleak desert surroundings. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
(Uploaded June 2016)