In praise of the colour red



Californien 2011a
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)



Jylland 2017-18
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.


Sydindien 2008
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)


Nepal 2009
True bugs, probably of the family Pyrrhocoridae, congregated on a leaf, Helambu, Nepal. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)


Taiwan 2018c
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)


Sjælland 2006-11
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.


Taiwan 2018c
Taiwan 2012a
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, a few being 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 elsewhere on this website, see Traditional medicine: Fumaria officinalis.

Many genera of the poppy family have gorgeous flowers, including true poppies (Papaver), Himalayan poppies (Meconopsis), and horned poppies (Glaucium). – Read more about Himalayan poppies elsewhere on this website, see: In praise of the colour yellow.

A large number of species in this family, 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.


Skandinavien 2001-14
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. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)


Fyn 2005-09
The corn poppy can be identified by its dark red colour, and by the black-and-white blotches at the base of the petals. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Long-headed poppy (Papaver dubium), which has paler red flowers than the corn poppy, is widely distributed in Temperate Eurasia, often found in large numbers on recently abandoned fields or along newly established roads.


Bornholm 2016a
These long-headed poppies have taken root along a house wall in the town of Sandvig, Bornholm, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)


Fyn 2010-17
A seed of long-headed poppy has sprouted in a mole hill in a lawn, Funen, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



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.


Sverige 2016-18
Jylland 2013-15
Prickly-headed poppy in Skåne, Sweden (top), and in central 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.


Tyrkiet 2006
Tyrkiet 2006
In these pictures, Papaver apulum grows among the Ancient Greek ruins at Troy. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Horned poppies (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.


Tyrkiet 2006
Orange form of red horned poppy, photographed in western Turkey. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Tyrkiet 2006
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.


Californien 2011a
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.

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.


Taiwan 2018
Taiwan 2017b
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)



Spider monkeys (Ateles) are a genus of seven species, belonging to the family Atelidae. They are found from southern Mexico south to Brazil, living in the upper stratum of tropical forests. These monkeys are characterized by their disproportionately long limbs, which have given them their name, and their long, prehensile tail, which is used as a fifth limb.

Read more about spider monkeys, as well as many other monkeys, elsewhere on this website, see Animals: Monkeys and apes.


Costa Rica-2
Six subspecies of Geoffroy’s spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi), also called black-handed or Central American spider monkey, are distributed from south-eastern Mexico east to Panama. This one is feeding on a bright red, coffee-like fruit in the rain forest of Tortuguero National Park, Limón, Costa Rica. (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.


Fanø 2001-12
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:


Taiwan 2013
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, including the Masaai.


Kenya 1988-89
Red-and-yellow barbet, Shaba National Park, Kenya. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778) – also called Carl von Linné – found one species of climbing lily so magnificent that he named it Gloriosa superba. Common names of this plant include flame lily, climbing lily, glorious lily, and tiger claw. This species, which is distributed over huge areas of Tropical Africa and Asia, was formerly placed in the huge lily family (Liliaceae), has now been moved to the family Colchicaceae. It is very poisonous, having been utilized to commit murder and suicide, and to kill animals.


Sydlige Afrika 1996-97 
Glorious flowers of Gloriosa superba, Zimbabwe. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Holi is a Hindu spring festival, celebrating the god Krishna, and the victory of good over evil – a gay festival, in which people, regardless of caste, pelt each other with red, yellow, purple, or green powder, or with water, dyed with powder. For this reason, Holi has been dubbed The Festival of Colours. – Read more about Holi elsewhere on this website, see Travel episodes: India 1991 – Attending Hindu festivals in Rajasthan.


Nordindien 1991
In Charbhuja, Rajasthan, India, where this picture was taken, Holi lasts no less than 15 days. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Annapurna 2007
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.

Other cormorant species are presented elsewhere on this website, see: Fishing.


Chile 2011
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)



The 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 winter, leaves of this species turn various shades of red, from orange to wine-red. In the Orient, the leaves 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.


Taiwan 2018a
Taiwan 2018a
Taiwan 2014
Taiwan 2016
Taiwan 2018
These pictures are from Taiwan, where the Chinese tallow-tree is very common. Its white seeds are eaten by various bird species, including 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.


Costa Rica
Scarlet macaw, eating fruits of a tree, near Capo Matapalo, Peninsula de Osa, Costa Rica. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Taiwan 2012a
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, Donggang, Taiwan. – Read about Daoism elsewhere on this website, see Religion: Daoism in Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Sloanea ampla is a tropical tree of the family Elaeocarpaceae, which grows to 30 metres tall, found in montane forests between Mexico and western Panama. Its Spanish name is peine de mico (‘monkey comb’), referring to the spiny fruits.


Costa Rica-2
Fallen fruit of Sloanea ampla, displaying its bright red, fleshy aril, 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 the construction at Stockholm Castle, King Johann III (1537-1592) notes that he should purchase ‘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, the 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:

Below, four pictures of ‘Swedish-red’ buildings are shown.


Sverige 2015
Farm house, Gillsätra, Öland, Sweden. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)


Sverige 2016-18
Stensjö By, north of Oscarshamn, Småland, Sweden. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)


Chile 2011a
House in Valparaiso, Chile. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)


Sverige 2015
Farm house, northwest of Kalmar, south-eastern Sweden. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




USA 2016
Dawn, Long Island, United States. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Idesia polycarpa is a tree of the willow family (Salicaceae), found in montane areas of China, Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. In Taiwan, between January and March, this tree displays an abundance of red berries, which draw birds like a magnet, including vivid niltava (Niltava vivida), Taiwan barbet (Psilopogon nuchalis), and Taiwan thrush (Turdus niveiceps), which was formerly regarded as a subspecies of the widely distributed island thrush (T. poliocephalus).


Idesia polycarpa, Dasyueshan National Forest, central Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Costa Rica-2
Piggy banks for sale in a shop in the Old Town, San José, Costa Rica. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Due to its gorgeous flowers, the scarlet sage (Salvia coccinea), which is native to Central America, is widely cultivated as an ornamental. This species easily becomes naturalized, as this one, 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.


Taiwan 2018
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)


Taiwan 2018a
Black bulbul, feeding in an African tulip tree flower (Spathodea campanulata), likewise in Tunghai University Park. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)


Nepal 1994-95
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)




Chile 2011a 
Rhodophiala advena, a gorgeous member of the amaryllis family (Amaryllidaceae), 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)



Sydlige Afrika 1996-97
Glorious evening sky over Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Saxifrages (Saxifraga) constitute a large genus with around 450 species, distributed in Asia, Europe, North America, and the Andes Mountains of South America. Most species grow in alpine areas. S. brunonis is a most characteristic species, easily identified by its numerous red runners. This species is widespread in the Himalaya, found from Kashmir eastwards to south-western China, between 2,400 and 5,600 metres altitude.

Pictures of other species of saxifrage are presented elsewhere on this website, see Plants: Mountain plants – Plants of the Himalaya.


Rolwaling 2004
Saxifraga brunonis, photographed after a heavy monsoon shower, Upper Rolwaling Valley, central 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.


Arizona-Utah 2001
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)



In the Himalaya, there are no less than c. 45 species of bramble, or raspberry (Rubus), of the rose family (Rosaceae). Their fruit is highly distinctive, being a globular head on the domed tip of the flower-stalk, consisting of fleshy carpels, among which numerous nutlets are situated.

Most Himalayan species are large, rambling, prickly shrubs, while a few are creeping, unarmed shrublets. Nepalese raspberry (Rubus nepalensis), which belongs to the latter group, is very common at altitudes between 2,100 and 3,200 m, from Uttarakhand east to Sikkim, creeping along the ground in open forests and along trails. In this habit, it resembles the circumboreal cloudberry (R. chamaemorus), but has bright red, delicious, slightly sour fruits.


Nepal 2009-1
Nepalese raspberry, photographed near the village of Gul Bhanjyang, Helambu, central Nepal, together with a species of spikemoss (Selaginella) and Cyanotis vaga, a blue flower of the dayflower family (Commelinaceae). (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Shining cranesbill (Geranium lucidum) 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.


Bornholm 2016a
After blooming, shining cranesbill often turns bright magenta. This plant was observed on the island of Bornholm, Denmark, growing in a crack on a rock face. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



In former days, the eastern half of North America held more than 13,000 covered wooden bridges, most of which were constructed in the 1800s. The covering was intended as a means to prolong the life-span of the bridge, which, without covering, would deteriorate after only 10 to 15 years.

Many of the covered bridges are truss bridges, a structure of connected elements usually forming triangular units. A lattice bridge is a type of truss bridge, where a large number of small planks are placed diagonally to form a lattice.

About 1,500 covered bridges have been preserved in the United States. Pictures of some of these are presented elsewhere on this website, see Culture: Bridges.


Hart Bridge is a wooden lattice truss bridge from c. 1864, 52 metres long and 4.6 metres broad, spanning the Housatonic River, West Cornwall, Connecticut. This bridge was constructed of timber from red spruce (Picea rubens), and wooden pegs, or trunnels, were used for joining the timbers.


Hart Bridge, a wooden lattice truss bridge, from c. 1864, 52 m long, 4.6 m broad, spanning the Housatonic River, West Cornwall, Connecticut, United States. The bridge was made from timber of Red Spruce, Picea rubens, and wooden pegs, or trunnels, were used for joining the timbers. Hart Bridge, en overdækket bro fra ca. 1864, førende over Housatonic-floden, West Cornwall, Connecticut, USA. Broen blev fremstillet af tømmer fra Red Spruce, Picea rubens, og samlet med træpløkke
Hart Bridge spans the Housatonic River, Connecticut. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Costa Rica-2
Young plants of a species of Tillandsia, of the pineapple family (Bromeliaceae), Cordillera de Tilarán, Costa Rica. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



In certain fishing communities in southern Taiwan, people still celebrate the so-called Boat Burning Festival, a Daoist festival, during which a complete wooden boat is built, only to be burned as an offering to the god of diseases, Wang-yeh, hoping that he will spare the people of the plague and other dreadful diseases. In former times, the burning boat was pushed out to sea, ceremonially carrying the diseases away, but this practice has now been abandoned, and the boat is burned on land. – Read more about Daoism elsewhere on this website, see Religion: Daoism in Taiwan.


Taiwan 2006-07
During a Boat Burning Festival, celebrated in the village of Jiading, near Kaohsiung, this pilgrim carries fake swords across his back. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



The claret cup cactus (Echinocereus triglochidatus) is distributed in the Mohave and Great Basin Deserts of western United States. More pictures of cactus species are found elsewhere on this website, see Gallery: Plants – Cacti.


USA 1992
USA 1992
The scarlet flowers of claret cup cactus seem almost too delicate to survive in the harsh environment of the Mohave Desert, here photographed in Joshua Tree National Park, California. (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.


Everest 2010
Everest 2010
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)



Zimbabwe-Kenya 1994 
The gorgeous fireball, or blood lily (Scadoxus multiflorus), is widely distributed throughout eastern and southern Africa, here encountered in Matobo National Park, Zimbabwe. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)


Zimbabwe-Kenya 1994
This white-legged black beetle, also photographed in Matobo National Park, is feeding in flowers of a fireball. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Young woman, Seventri, Rajasthan, India. Ung kvinde, Seventri, Rajasthan, Indien
Slender girl in a red sari, Seventri, Rajasthan, India. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Taiwan 2013
Picked fruits of roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa), with purplish-red calyces. This species is commonly cultivated in Taiwan, where this picture was taken. – Read more about this species elsewhere on this website, see Traditional medicine: Hibiscus sabdariffa. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Annapurna 2007
Young parts of this fern leaf, hanging down from a bank in the Annapurna area, central Nepal, are red, later turning green. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Soft brome (Bromus hordeaceus) is a grass species, which is native to Europe and northern Asia, and has also become naturalized in many other places, including North America, where it is known as bull grass or soft cheat.


Sjælland 2006-11 
In this picture, fruiting spikes of soft brome cast 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.


Californien 2013
A fallen leaf of Pacific madrone, showing ‘autumn’ colours, Salt Point State Park, California. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Asien 1977-78 
Whatever Indian village women are doing, they always bring their baby along. This woman has been collecting firewood in the scrub forest in Keoladeo National Park, Rajasthan, India. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Bali 2009
This sculpture outside a Hindu temple near Ubud, Bali, Indonesia, depicting a temple guardian, has been adorned in his ears with Chinese hibiscus flowers (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis), supposedly as an offering, or maybe as mere decoration. – Read about Hinduism elsewhere on this website, see Religion: Hinduism. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Taiwan 2008
Young leaves of this fern species, Woodwardia unigemmata, which belongs to the hard fern family (Blechnaceae), are red. – Mingtsih, Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Californien 2011a 
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)



By many authorities, Jerdon’s minivet (Pericrocotus jerdoni), living in Myanmar, is regarded as a subspecies of the 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.


Myanmar 2007
Male Jerdon’s minivet, Bagan, Myanmar. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Chile 2011
Chile 2011
In these pictures, a parasitic mistletoe, Tristerix aphylla, grows 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. (Photo 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.


Costa Rica 
Red ginger, Peninsula de Osa, Costa Rica. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Hobart’s red glider (Cymothoe hobarti) is a Central African Nymphalid, found in lowland forests from Central African Republic and Zaire, eastwards to Kenya and Tanzania.


Zimbabwe-Kenya 1994
A gorgeous male Hobart’s red glider, basking on a leaf in Kakamega Forest, Kenya. (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.


USA 1998-99 
Flaming autumn foliage and fruits of an eastern burningbush, Massachusetts. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Fanø 2001-12
Bright red sporangies of British soldiers (Cladonia floerkeana), Jutland, Denmark. Other names of this cup lichen include 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).

Below, pictures of 6 species with bright red flowers are shown. Many other species of these beautiful plants are presented elsewhere on this website, see Plants: Rhododendrons.


Rhododendron arboreum is the largest among c. 100 species of rhododendron in the Himalaya, growing to 15 metres tall. This species 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. This tree is the national plant of Nepal, called lali guras.


Flower photos Q-Z
Flowers of Rhododendron arboreum, covered in raindrops after a monsoon shower, Ghunsa Valley, eastern Nepal. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



From a distance, Rhododendron barbatum is quite similar to R. arboreum, but a closer look at it reveals distinctive glandular bristles on its leaf-stalk, and its pinkish bark peels off in thin, cinnamon-coloured flakes. This species is very common in the Himalaya, often forming pure stands at altitudes between 2,400 and 3,600 metres altitude. It is found from north-western India eastwards to Bhutan.


Nepal 2013
Rhododendron barbatum, Tharepati, Langtang National Park, central Nepal. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Rhododendron thomsonii is a smallish bush, growing in open areas, preferably near streams. This species is easily identified by its red calyx and wax-like flowers. It is distributed between eastern Nepal and south-eastern Tibet.


Nepal 2013
Rhododendron thomsonii, Ghunsa Valley, eastern Nepal. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Rhododendron delavayi is a beautiful species, distributed in south-western China, south-eastern Tibet, Bhutan, Arunachal Pradesh, and mountains of northern Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.


Guizhou 2009
Rhododendron delavayi, photographed in the Wumeng Shan Mountains, Guizhou Province, China. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Flame azalea (Rhododendron calendulaceum) is native to the Appalachian Mountains, from Pennsylvania and Ohio south to Georgia and Alabama. Due to its gorgeous flowers, it is widely cultivated elsewhere.


USA 2012a
This flame azalea in Maudsley State Park, Massachusetts, is an escape from earlier cultivation. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Flowers of the major part of the 30 Taiwanese rhododendron species display white, pinkish, or violet colours, but those of Rhododendron oldhamii are a warm red. This species is found almost down to sea level, while most of the other species grow at higher altitudes in the central part of the country.


Taiwan 2010
Rhododendron oldhamii, photographed on the lower slopes of Wuwowei Shan Mountain, near Guguan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



The common dogwood (Cornus sanguinea) is a native of Europe, distributed 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.


Frankrig-Spanien 2007
Frankrig-Spanien 2007
Raindrops hang like pearls on autumn leaves and fruits of this common dogwood, Valle Tena, Aragon, Spain. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Myanmar 2007 
To praise the Lord Buddha, red candles are ignited at the Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon, Myanmar. – Read about this pagoda, and about Buddhism in general, elsewhere on this website, see Religion: Buddhism. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Taiwan 2009
This leaf of a species of knotweed (Polygonum), growing on the Ammashan Mountain, Taiwan, has been attacked by fungi, causing colourful spots to form. (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.


Californien 2011a 
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.


Hornborgasjön 2006
Eurasian crane, photographed at 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)



In India, the sarus crane (Grus antigone) 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.


Asien 1977-78
Sarus crane, Keoladeo National Park, Rajasthan, India. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Rock-jasmines (Androsace) 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 contains about a hundred species, distributed across cooler areas of the Northern Hemisphere, with no less than 73 occurring in China.


Himachal 1 
Rock-jasmines are ubiquitous in the Himalaya, with c. 23 species, most of which grow at high altitudes. Some species are mat-forming, like this Androsace muscoidea, photographed in Great Himalayan National Park, Himachal Pradesh. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Chile 2011a
Rusted tin sheets on a wall, Valparaiso, Chile. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Ourisia ruelloides, also called O. poeppigii, is a member of the plantain family (Plantaginaceae), which is native to montane areas of the 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.


Chile 2011a
Ourisia ruelloides, photographed in Parque Nacional Conguillio, Chile. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Arizona-Utah 2001 
The red cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) is very common in North America. This male is resting atop a spiny saguaro cactus (Carnegiea gigantea), Arizona. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Guatemala 1998
The seed-heads of this grass, growing near Lago Atitlan, Guatemala, appear red in the setting sun. the volcano in the background is San Pedro (3020 m). – Read about Guatemala elsewhere on this website, see Travel episodes: Guatemala 1998 – Land of the Mayans. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Indien 2003 
To dry them in the sun, Mewar people have scattered thousands of chili peppers (Capsicum frutescens) in the desert sands of the Thar Desert, Rajasthan, north-western India, adding marvellous patches of crimson to the drab surroundings. – Read more about chili elsewhere 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 Fuchsia 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:


Irland 1987-99
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)



Red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa) is easily identified by its bright red berries. This species has a very wide distribution, found in Europe, northern Temperate Asia, and across northern North America. It grows in various habitats, such as open forests, along rivers, and in other open areas, generally in moist conditions.


Frankrig-Spanien 2007 
Bright red fruits of red elderberry, Gavarnie, Pyrenees, France. (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.


Costa Rica
Red passion flower, Reserva Nacional Hacienda Baru, Costa Rica. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Island-Færøerne 1999 
As a breeding bird, the kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla) is widely distributed across the North Atlantic. Each pair of this small gull species 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)



In former days, the red slug (Arion rufus) was confined to southern Europe, but it was widely introduced to northern Europe by monks during the Middle Ages.


Jylland 1966-76
Red slug, creeping down a log, Jutland, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Nordindien 1991
Nordindien 1991
Nordindien 1991
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. – Read about Hinduism elsewhere on this website, see Religion: Hinduism. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Myanmar 2007
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 elsewhere on this website, see Nature: Invasive species. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Nordindien 1997
Selling colourful dyes at a market, Sonpur, Bihar, India. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



The genus Castilleja, commonly known as Indian paintbrush or prairie-fire, counts about 200 species, most of which have brilliant red flowers and bracts, while a few are orange, yellow, or violet. These plants 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, which belong to the broomrape family (Orobanchaceae), obtain part of their nutrients from roots of other plants. The flowers of some species are edible, and were formerly consumed by various native tribes, but as these plants tend to absorb and concentrate selenium in their tissue, roots and green parts can be very toxic. (Source:

Below, pictures of five species from the western United States are shown.


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.


Arizona-Utah 2001
This desert paintbrush adds a splash of colour to the bleak desert environment in Monument Valley, Arizona. The rock formation in the background is called Elephant Butte. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)


Coast paintbrush (Castilleja affinis) is native to the Pacific States, from Washington south to Baja California, growing on slopes along the coast, and also a little inland.


Californien 2013b
Coast paintbrush, Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness Park, Santa Ana Mountains, California. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)


Monterey paintbrush (Castilleja latifolia) is endemic to a very limited area along the Californian Pacific Coast, from San Francisco Bay south to Monterey, growing in coastal shrub and on sand dunes.


Californien 2013
Monterey paintbrush, photographed in Garrapata State Park, south of Monterey. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)


Woolly paintbrush (Castilleja lanata) is widely distributed, from California eastwards across Arizona and New Mexico to Texas.


Californien 2013
Woolly paintbrush, Pinnacles National Monument, California. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)


Bracts of 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.


USA 1992
Texas paintbrush, Gilchrist, Texas. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Nepal 1998 
Brightly dressed village woman, spreading manure in a field near Sauraha, southern Nepal. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Columnea consanguinea, of the gloxinia family (Gesneriaceae), is a woody herb, growing to 1 metre tall. The specific name, meaning ‘with blood’, refers to the red blotches on the underside of its leaves. This species has a rather limited distribution, found only in Costa Rica and Panama.


Costa Rica-2
Columnea consanguinea, Cordillera de Tilarán, Costa Rica. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Bog bilberry (Vaccinium uliginosum), of the heath family (Ericaceae), has an enormous distribution, found in temperate and arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere, besides isolated populations in montane areas, including 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.


Island 1989-91 
A recent shower has adorned the red autumn foliage of this bog bilberry, growing on the mountain Fornastaðafjall, near Akureyri, northern Iceland, with countless ‘pearls.’ (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



A chaitya is a sculpture, which depicts four Dhyani Buddhas (meditating Buddhas), seated back to back, their faces turned towards the four cardinal directions. – Read more about Dhyani Buddhas and chaityas elsewhere on this website, see Religion: Buddhism.


Nepal 2000
Devout Buddhists have adorned this chaitya near the Swayambhunath Stupa, Kathmandu, Nepal, with red dye and a Chinese hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis). (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Traditional paper lanterns, for the major part bright red, adorn almost all Daoist temples in Taiwan. – Numerous pictures of these paper lanterns are presented elsewhere on this website, see Culture: Lamps and lights. About Daoism, see Religion: Daoism in Taiwan.


Taiwan 2010
Paper lanterns in a Daoist temple in the city of Taichung. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)


Taiwan 2008
Taiwan 2008
Song Bo Chin, a Daoist temple in the town of Ershuei. In Chinese mythology, the dragon is a symbol of power, strength, and good luck, and Daoist temples abound with images of these creatures. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Nepal 2008
The Indian cobra (Naja naja) is sacred to Hindus, revered as a god, Naga. Offerings of rice and red dye have been placed on this Naga sculpture in Kathmandu, Nepal. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Photinia niitakayamensis is a small tree of the rose family (Rosaceae), growing to 4 metres tall. This species, which is endemic to montane areas of Taiwan, was previously called Stranvaesia niitakayamensis, but all Stranvaesia species have been moved to the genus Photinia.


Taiwan 2006
Autumn foliage of Photinia niitakayamensis, Lulin Mountain, Yu Shan, central Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Nordindien 1991 
This little Hindu girl in the city of Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India, is wearing her finest dress, and a red ribbon is adorning her hair. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



As its name implies, the foliage of scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea) turns scarlet in the autumn. This species, which mainly grows on dry, acidic soils, is found in eastern and central United States, from Maine south to Georgia, and thence westwards to Missouri and Louisiana.


USA 1998-99
Leaves of scarlet oak, Caleb Smith State Park, Long Island. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Water dock (Rumex hydrolapathum) is the largest among the dock species, growing to 2 metres tall. It is found in wetlands all over Europe and western Asia, eastwards to western Himalaya.


Sjælland 2006-11 
Withering leaf of water dock, displaying gorgeous colours. It was observed at a lakeside near Roskilde, Zealand, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Sydspanien 2005 
Bullfight, Sevilla, Andalusia, Spain. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Sydafrika-Namibia 1993
Grasshopper among gravel, Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Sydindien 1997-98 
This tribal vendor at the Sabari River, Odisha (Orissa), eastern India, is selling coconuts and various flowers, including Chinese hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) and marigolds (Tagetes), which pilgrims present as offerings in a local Hindu temple. – Other pictures of Indian tribals can be studied elsewhere on this website, see Gallery: People – Tribals of India. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Taiwan 2010
Sneakers, drying outside a door, Lugang, Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



The commonest African fruit-bat is the straw-coloured fruit-bat (Eidolon helvum), which lives in sub-Saharan savannas and forest, south to South Africa, and also in the south-western part of the Arabian Peninsula.


Sydlige Afrika 1996-97 
At dusk, great numbers of straw-coloured fruit-bats leave their day roost in Kasanka National Park, Zambia, in search of ripe fruit. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Nepal 2009-2
This leaf, observed near Pokhara, Nepal, displays a multitude of colours. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Sydøstasien 1975 
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)



Myanmar 2007
Buddhist monks on their morning round to collect food from people, Bagan, Myanmar. – Read about Buddhism elsewhere on this website, see Religion: Buddhism. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Vorsø 2000-2020
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)



The white-fleshed pitaya cactus (Hylocereus undatus) has been cultivated for hundreds of years, and its place of origin is unknown. The word pitaya refers to edible fruits of several Mexican cactus species. White-fleshed pitaya has many other English names, including 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.

Pictures of many other cactus species may be studied elsewhere on this website, see Gallery: Plants – Cacti.


Taiwan 2011
A plate of white-fleshed pitaya cactus fruits, photographed in Taiwan, where this species is commonly cultivated. (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.


Taiwan 2014
Taiwan 2014
Taiwan 2014
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)



A close relative of the beach almond is Terminalia orbicularis, a small tree, growing to 8 metres tall. It is found in a rather limited area of eastern Africa, from Ethiopia south to Kenya.


Kenya 1988-89
Terminalia orbicularis 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)



Tanzania 1989
Mating red-legged millipeds, Rondo Forest, southern Tanzania. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



USA 2012 
Dilapidated barn, Washington, New Jersey, United States. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Myanmar 2007
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.


USA 1998-99
Autumn forest, Williamstown, Massachusetts. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)


USA 1998-99
Autumn forest, Catskills, New York State. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)


USA 1998-99
Brilliant autumn colours on leaves of red maple, Adirondacks, New York State. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Uttarakhand 2008 
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)



The red admiral (Vanessa atalanta) is distributed over an enormous area, found in Eurasia, North Africa, North and Central America, Caribbean Islands, Hawaii, and New Zealand. In later years, it has expanded its breeding area further north in Europe. Previously, this species was only a late-summer visitor to Denmark and southern Sweden, migrating from further south. Today, however, it breeds in these areas, some individuals surviving the winter.


Vorsø 1975-87
This newly hatched red admiral is feeding on a fallen apple, Jutland, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



The eastern miombo sunbird (Cinnyris manoensis), which was formerly regarded as conspecific with the western miombo sunbird (C. gertrudi) under the name miombo double-collared sunbird, is found in eastern Africa, from southern Tanzania south to central Moçambique.


Zimbabwe-Kenya 1994 
Male eastern miombo sunbird (Cinnyris manoensis), hanging head down in a tree, Chimanimani National Park, Zimbabwe. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Four subspecies of Telophorus viridis, a species of bush-shrike, which was previously known as T. quadricolor, are distributed across southern Africa, from Gabon, Zaire, and Kenya, southwards to South Africa.


Tanzania 1993
This gorgeous four-coloured bush-shrike (Telophorus viridis ssp. nigricauda) is beating its wings, Rondo Forest, southern Tanzania. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



USA 1992 
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)



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(Revised continuously)