Late afternoon sunshine is casting shadows of two marionette puppets and a tree onto a wall, Taiwan. – Taiwanese marionette puppet operas are described on the page Culture: Folk art of Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The giant taro, or giant elephant’s ear (Alocasia macrorrhizos), which grows to a height of 5 m, is native from Malaysia south through Indonesia to northern Australia, but has been introduced to many other tropical and subtropical areas as an ornamental, food crop, or animal feed. It is listed as an invasive species in Cuba, New Zealand, and several Pacific islands.
The gigantic leaves of this plant are often used as umbrellas. Its rhizome is edible when cooked for a long time, but the sap irritates the skin in your mouth, as it contains needle-like calcium oxalate crystals. In Hawaii, this plant is called ʻape, and they have a saying, Ai no i ka ʻape he maneʻo no ka nuku. (’The one who eats ʻape, will have an itchy mouth’), meaning ’There will be consequences for partaking of something bad.’ (Sources: S. Scott & T. Craig, 2009. Poisonous Plants of Paradise: First Aid and Medical Treatment of Injuries from Hawaii’s Plants. University of Hawaii Press; and M.K. Pukui, 1986. ‘Ōlelo No’eau, Hawaiian Proverbs and Sayings. Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu.)
Shadows from ferns create patterns on a leaf of giant taro, Shei-pa National Park, Taiwan. This species is ubiquitous in the lowland of Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Street sweeper, Karapinar, east of Konya, Turkey. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Fog, lifting above Lake Michaelson, Mount Kenya. A halo is seen around my shadow. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Shadows from bamboo and from leaves of a tree are cast on the back side of a sign, Tzi Gong Da Foa Daoist Temple, Linnei, Taiwan. The shadow from the tree leaves resembles a cat, licking its paw. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
In many areas around the Earth, cone-shaped pillars are formed in moraine clay and gravel, which was deposited during the last Ice Age, when the glaciers began melting away. In dry weather, this mixture is hard as stone, but when it rains, it becomes softer and begins to erode away. However, larger rocks were also deposited by the glaciers, and under such stones the soil is protected from the rain. Over the years, the surrounding soil is eroded away, and beneath the rocks majestic pillars are formed, often rising steeply out of the soil. Such structures are called earth pyramids.
Evening sunshine, illuminating earth pyramids in the Markha Valley, Ladakh, northern India. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Evening clouds, moving over the Annapurna Mountains, near Muktinath, Mustang, Nepal. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The shadow from a leaf of breadfruit tree (Artocarpus altilis) is cast on another leaf, Taichung, Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The native range of snowball sand verbena (Abronia fragrans) is the American prairie states, from Montana and North Dakota southwards to Arizona, Texas, and Chihuahua, northern Mexico. Despite its name, it is not related to the common vervain (Verbena officinalis), but is a member of the four-o’clock family (Nyctaginaceae).
This species was first collected by Thomas Nuttall (1786-1859) near the Platte River, Nebraska. He was a British printer, who came to the U.S. in 1808. Shortly after his arrival, he met botanist Benjamin Barton (1766-1815), who induced a strong interest in natural history in him. During the following years, until 1841, Nuttall undertook several expeditions in America, and numerous plants and animals are named after him.
Snowball sand verbena in evening light, Arizona. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Ox-cart in evening light, southern Pakistan. The domestication of cattle is described on the page Animals: Animals as servants of Man. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Young couple, walking hand-in-hand, Xiluo, Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
This dune in Parque Nacional Valle de la Luna, Chile, consists of dark volcanic sand. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Early morning at a market place, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The greater plantain (Plantago major) is native to Europe and Temperate Asia, but has been introduced to many parts of the world, often becoming naturalized. When the Europeans emigrated to North America, this species was inadvertently brought along. Its sticky seeds would often stick to wagon wheels of the settlers, who thus spread it wherever they went. This was noticed by the indigenous peoples, who called it ‘white man’s footprint’.
Fruiting spikes of greater plantains, casting shadows on snow, Jutland, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The vast Thar Desert stretches across the state of Rajasthan, north-western India, and further west into Pakistan. The main part of this desert is level sand or gravel plains with scattered bushes and trees, such as dzal (Salvadora procera), thor (Euphorbia caduca), which is a cactus-like species of spurge, and Sodom apple (Calotropis procera), locally called akaro.
The fruit of Sodom apple was first described by Roman historian Titus Flavius Josephus, born Yosef ben Matityahu (c. 37-100 A.D.), who found it growing near the city of Sodom: “which fruits have a color as if they were fit to be eaten, but if you pluck them with your hands, they dissolve into smoke and ashes.” (W. Whiston, 1737. The War of the Jews, Book IV, Chapter 8, Sec. 4). Titus is referring to the fact that the ripe fruit easily dissolves, releasing hundreds of downy seeds, which are scattered to the four winds.
The city of Jaisalmer is situated in the heart of the Thar Desert, near the Pakistani border. It was founded in 1155 by Rajput prince Roa Rawal Jaisal, who ordered construction of a huge fort, Sonar Qila – testimony of a time, when unrest reigned in this area. Originally, this fort was surrounded by an outer wall, 4.5 km long, but today the city stretches far beyond the remains of this wall.
You may read more about this area elsewhere, see Travel episodes – India 1986: “Sir, would you like to see this peacock?” and India 2003: Camel safari in the Thar Desert.
Here and there in the Thar Desert, golden sand dunes, up to 50 m high, dominate the landscape. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Early in the morning, this woman in Jaisalmer is milking her zebu cow. The calf is waiting for its share. Read more about the zebu ox at Animals: Animals as servants of Man. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Pedestrians, casting long afternoon shadows, Jaisalmer. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Don’t fall down! – This picture was taken during a camel safari in the Thar Desert. Camels are dealt with in detail on the page Animals: Animals as servants of Man. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Small plant, casting long shadows on a sand dune, Thar Desert. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Early morning on a village road, Lyø, Funen, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The marram grass (Ammophila arenaria) is native to coastal sand dunes of Europe and North Africa. It is very proliferous, as its rhizomes can grow 2 m in about six months, and one clone can produce a hundred new shoots annually. This grass was introduced to western North America in the mid-1800s to stabilize shifting sand dunes. However, it soon spread beyond control, and today it is one of the worst invasive weeds of coastal California, which has spread northwards to British Columbia. (Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ammophila_arenaria)
Marram grass, growing on a sand dune at Dueodde, the southern tip of the island of Bornholm, Denmark. The tracks in front of the grass is from a mouse. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Shadows of a metal fence are cast on flagstones on the Hippodrome Square, Istanbul, Turkey. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Construction of Great Zimbabwe, capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe, took place between the 11th and 15th Centuries A.D. It is believed that this stone city, which covers an area of 7.2 km2, was the residence of a local king. At its peak, it would have housed about 18,000 inhabitants.
Watchtower in the Great Enclosure, Great Zimbabwe. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The sacred, or Indian, lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) is distributed from Iran and the entire Indian Subcontinent, eastwards to southern China, Taiwan, and Japan, thence south through Southeast Asia, Malaysia, and Indonesia to New Guinea and northern Australia. All parts of this plant are edible, in particular the rhizome and seeds. Rhizome, leaves, and seeds are also widely used in traditional Indian and Oriental medicine for treatment of numerous ailments. The plant is sacred to Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jains, who call it padma.
The important role of the lotus in Buddhism and Hinduism is described on the page Plants: Plants in folklore and poetry, whereas the various Indian religions are dealt with at Religion.
Lotus leaves, Yangshuo, Guangxi Province, southern China. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The western gull (Larus occidentalis) is a large gull, which is distributed along the American Pacific Coast, from British Columbia south to Baja California, Mexico.
Western gulls, resting on a beach, Jughandle State Park, California. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Humayun, whose real name was Nasir-ud-Din Muḥammad, was the second emperor of the Moghul Empire, comprising what is today north-western India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Humayun ruled in two periods, 1531-1540 and 1555-1556. He died in 1556, when he stumbled on the staircase, leading up to his library, hitting his head on the rough stone steps.
The shadow from a carved sandstone ‘window’ creates patterns on a wall in Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi, India. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The shadow of this piece of dried ginger, held up in front of a lampshade, resembles a dragon. – Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Early in the morning, kitchen smoke is seeping out of houses in the village of Namche Bazaar, Khumbu, Nepal. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Popular names of the genus Heliconia include lobster-claw, toucan beak, wild plantain, and false bird-of-paradise. Formerly, this genus, comprising about 200 species, was included in the banana family (Musaceae), but is now forming a family of its own, Heliconiaceae. These plants are found mainly in Central and South America, with a few species in some Pacific Islands and Indonesia.
This shadow on a leaf of Heliconia latispatha, growing on Peninsula de Osa, Costa Rica, resembles a snail. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Near the town of Sonpur, Bihar, northern India, a great annual mela (fair) takes place in November. The following two pictures show scenes from this market, shortly after dawn.
Zebu oxen and a cart, casting long morning shadows. This ox is presented in detail on the page Animals: Animals as servants of Man. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Early in the morning, a man leads his horse to the Sonpur mela. The long relationship between Man and the horse is described on the page Animals: Animals as servants of Man. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The origin of peacock-plume grass (Chloris barbata), also called purple top or swollen fingergrass, is uncertain. Some authorities maintain that it is native to Tropical America, others claim that it is indigenous in Tropical Africa. Whatever its origin may be, it has been accidentally introduced to most warmer parts of the world and is regarded as an invasive in a number of countries, including Australia, Korea, Thailand, Cambodia, and India.
This species is a common weed in sugarcane and rice fields, which is a serious problem, as it is a host of a number of rice insect pests, including white-backed planthoppers (Sogatella furcifera and Sogatodes pusanus), rice bug (Leptocorisa oratorius), rice ear-cutting caterpillar (Mythimna separata), cereal thrips (Haplothrips ganglbaurei and Chirothrips mexicanus), and others.
Peacock-plume grass is extremely common in Taiwan, also in cities. This one is casting its shadow on a house wall in Taichung. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The shadow of a jagged mountain chain is reflected on clouds, Khumbu, Nepal. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Part of a wing of an old Dutch type windmill, Langeland, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Hilly grassland, near Ljosavatn, northern Iceland. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The long relationship between the dog and Man is described in detail on the page Animals: Animals as servants of Man.
Woman, walking her dog on a sandy beach near Mendocino, California. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Samoyed, watching its own shadow, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Grass-clad dunes on the island of Langli, Wadden Sea, Jutland, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Bananas are dealt with in detail on the page Plants: Bananas. – The Taiwan banana (Musa formosana) is endemic to Taiwan, found on forested slopes from near sea level to c. 1,000 m altitude. This plant can grow to 6 m tall.
Shadows from ferns create patterns on leaves of Taiwan banana, Malabang National Forest. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Withering banana leaf, Lombok, Indonesia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Udaipur is a delightful city in southern Rajasthan, India, situated around the gorgeous Pichola Lake. As early as the 10th Century, the Hindu Mewar Rajputs established a town here, named Ayad, which became a thriving trading centre.
Udaipur was founded in 1559 during the reign of Maharana Udai Singh II, the ruler of Chittorgarh, further north. Chittorgarh, situated in a flat tableland, was vulnerable to attacks from the Maharana’s enemies, notably Muslims, who had conquered parts of northern India. Following the emergence of artillery warfare in the 16th century, Udai Singh decided to move his capital to a more secure location, choosing Ayad. However, as Ayad was prone to flooding, he decided to establish his new capital on a ridge east of Pichola Lake. To protect the new city from attacks, Udai Singh ordered a 6-km-long wall, with seven gates, to be built around the city.
Read more about the belligerent Rajputs elsewhere, see Travel episodes – India 1986: “His name is Muhammed!”
Entrance gate near Lake Pichola, Udaipur, Rajasthan, India. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Woman, bringing a basket of laundry to the lake side. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The scientific family name of squirrels, Sciuridae, is derived from Sciurus, the name given in 1758 to the Eurasian red squirrel by Swedish naturalist Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778), also called Carl von Linné. Sciurus is a Latinized form of the Greek word skiouros, meaning ‘shadow-tailed’, from skia (‘shadow’) and oura (‘tail’).
Many species of squirrel are presented on the page Animals: Squirrels of North America.
In the intense midday heat in the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, South Africa, this Cape ground-squirrel (Xerus inauris) is using its tail to provide shadow on its body. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The rosebay willow-herb (Chamerion angustifolium) is a colonizer of disturbed areas, readily invading forests clearings and abandoned fields. An excellent example of its ability to completely take over newly abandoned fields can be studied elsewhere, see Vorsø on my mind: Expanding wilderness.
The stem of this rosebay willow-herb is covered in rime, bending it to the ground. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Chortens are the Tibetan variety of Buddhist stupas, whose various parts symbolize the elements, the base representing soil, the dome water, the rings or squares above the dome fire, the half-moon air, while the uppermost point – sometimes a small sun – represents outer space.
Chortens and other Buddhist structures are dealt with in detail on the page Religion: Buddhism.
Early in the morning, this chorten stands out against the barren hills surrounding Tso Kar, a saline lake in Ladakh, northern India. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Ruined chortens, near Leh, Ladakh. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Shadows from persimmons (Diospyros kaki), drying on scaffolds, Xinpu, Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Dead Atlantic horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus), Reeds Beach, Cape May, New Jersey, United States. – Read about the sad fate of horseshoe crabs on the page Animals: Horseshoe crabs – living fossils in peril. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Shadow inside the crater of Hverfell, near Lake Mývatn, northern Iceland – one of the largest explosion craters in the world, about 140 m deep, and with a diameter of about 1,000 m. Its age is estimated at about 3,000 years. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The shadow of a metal fence is cast on a tombstone, Holtug Church, Zealand, Denmark. The plant in the foreground is a cotoneaster. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Jagged mountains in the Shila River Valley, Ladakh, India. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Ales Stenar (‘Stones of Ale’) is a monument from the Bronze Age near the village of Kåseberga, Skåne, Sweden, consisting of c. 60 megaliths, erected to form a huge ‘ship’, c. 80 m long and 20 m wide. – More megaliths are presented on the page Culture: Megaliths. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Bird nesting box on a wall, Jutland, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Morning light, grazing cattle, and oak trees, near Los Alamos, California. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Boys, passing through cooking smoke, seeping out of houses in the village of Chame, Annapurna, Nepal. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Drift wood, casting a long evening shadow on a sandy beach, Bornholm, Denmark. The shadow resembles some long-legged animal with a long, thin tail. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The Jelling Stones near Jelling Church, Jutland, Denmark, are runic stones, dating back to c. 965 A.D. The larger stone was erected by King Harald ‘Bluetooth’ to commemorate his parents, King Gorm and Queen Thyra. On one side of the stone is a carving of Christ – the oldest Norse image of Christ – and on the other an animal, entwined by a serpent. The text translates as follows: “King Harald ordered these runes carved to commemorate Gorm, his father, and Thyra, his mother – the very Harald who conquered all of Denmark and Norway, and Christened the Danes.”
The smaller stone, which was erected by King Gorm, says: “King Gorm made these runes to commemorate Thyre, his wife, Denmark’s pride.”
Today, unfortunately, the stones are behind armoured plastic, partly because they had been subject to vandalism, partly because they were beginning to show signs of erosion from acid rain.
Crosses on graves, casting long shadows, Jelling Church. The famous Jelling Stones are seen in the background. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Horses, grazing in a high-altitude meadow, Puga Marshes, Ladakh, north-western India. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Shady street in the town of Lugang, Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Fern leaflets, El Yunque, Puerto Rico. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Evening light on barren mountains, Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, India. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Green hills near Los Alamos, California. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Shadows from leaves, cast on a screen, resemble a hippo. (Foto 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.
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)
Barren slopes in the Markha Valley, Ladakh, north-western India. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Gate and late afternoon shadow, Eriksberg Stränder Nature Reserve, Blekinge, Sweden. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The jackass penguin (Spheniscus demersus), which is named after its donkey-like braying, is confined to coasts of South Africa and Namibia. This species has been declining drastically since 1800, when the population was estimated at 4 million. Today, there are less than 50,000 – a result of overfishing as well as climate change. (Source: seaturtles.org)
Jackass penguins, returning from the sea to their breeding colony at Boulders, Simonstown, Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
In the Namib Desert, western Namibia, an area around Sossusvlei displays a large number of reddish sand dunes, the highest of which are around 275 m. These dunes and other natural phenomena in Namibia are dealt with in detail on the page Countries and places: Namibia – a desert country.
Late afternoon light on sand dunes at Sossusvlei, Namib Desert. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The parasol leaf tree (Macaranga tanarius), also called heart leaf or nasturtium tree, belongs to the spurge family (Euphorbiaceae). It is a native of eastern China, Taiwan, Southeast Asia, Indonesia, the Philippines, New Guinea, and eastern Australia.
This shadow on a parasol leaf tree leaf resembles a slanted-eyed cat. The picture was taken in Taiwan, where this species is very common. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Red frangipani (Plumeria rubra), also called temple tree, is native to Mexico, Central America, and northernmost South America. Due to its pretty, fragrant flowers, this species has been introduced to almost all tropical and subtropical countries as an ornamental. In Asia, it is often planted near temples, hence one of its English names.
The shadow of a red frangipani is cast on a wall, surrounding a Confucius temple in the city of Tainan, Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Eroded rocks in morning light, Badlands National Park, South Dakota, United States. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Rusted chain on a house wall, Lyø, Funen, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The fragrant taro, or lesser elephant-ear (Alocasia odora) is native from north-eastern India eastwards to Japan, and thence southwards to Borneo. In Vietnam, this herb is used for treatment of colds. The plant is inedible when raw because of needle-sharp calcium oxalate crystals in its cells. In Japan, several cases of food poisoning by consumption of this plant have been reported.
Fern leaf, casting shadow on a leaf of fragrant taro, Malabang National Forest, Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Creosote (Larrea tridentata) is a shrub, which can grow in the most extreme desert conditions. Today, it is distributed over hundreds of thousands of km2 in the Mohave, Sonora and Chihuahua Deserts in south-western United States and Mexico. This species is protected against extreme heat and drought by a layer of insulating resin, which has a foul smell, hence the Mexican folk name hediondilla (’the little stinker’). It also tastes horribly, containing chemical substances like flavin, lignin, and saponin.
Creosote is an extremely hardy plant. Following nuclear tests in the Nevadan desert in 1962, all living things, naturally, had been split to atoms. Ten years later, however, 20 of the original 21 creosote bushes had sprouted again!
The oldest living organism in the world is thought to be a creosote clone in the Mohave Desert, estimated to be c. 9,400 years old.
These creosote bushes grow in pure sand, Mesquite Dunes, Death Valley National Park, California. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Evening light on barren rocks, near Pang, Ladakh, India. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Ice sculpture, formed around a stone in shallow water, Horsens Fjord, Denmark. More pictures of such sculptures are found on the page Nature: Snow and ice. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
Field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) is a Eurasian species, which twines around other plants to compete for sunlight and nutrients.
In America, popular names of this species include Creeping Jenny and many others, alluding to its invasive nature. In his delightful book All about Weeds, American botanist Edwin Spencer (1881-1964) writes: “Creeping Jenny is one of the meanest of weeds. That name aptly describes it. A whispering little hussy that creeps in and spoils everything. The weed needs no other name than this, but it has several others (…) hedge bells, corn-lily, withwind, bellbine, lap-love, sheep-bine, corn-bind, bear-bind, and green vine.”
Many other members of the morning-glory family are presented on the page Plants: Morning-glories and bindweeds.
In this picture from Zealand, Denmark, the shadow from leaves of a field bindweed is cast on a leaf of garden nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus), resembling two pairs of Disney’s Aristocats. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
The Victoria Falls Bridge, near Victoria Falls, spans the Zambezi River, which constitutes the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. The shadow of this bridge is reflected on rocks along the river gorge. – Pictures of other bridges may be studied on the page Culture: Bridges. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)
(Uploaded October 2017)
(Latest update July 2019)