In praise of the colour orange



Women, making decorations of palm leaves for a Hindu temple festival, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





In the wonderful Monterey Aquarium in California, huge aquariums, containing various jellyfish, are brightly illuminated, on a blue background. These pictures show Pacific sea nettle (Chrysaora fuscescens). (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



This is a young black sea nettle (Chrysaora achlyos). (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





Pattern on a stump of wild cherry (Prunus avium), nature reserve Vorsø, Horsens Fjord, Denmark. This tree is described on the page Plants: Plants in folklore and poetry. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





At sunset, a lone black-legged kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla) is feeding in the sea west of Greenland. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




At the time around sunrise and sunset, the sky, clouds, buildings, etc., are often adorned with wonderful shades of red or orange. Other pictures, taken at these times of the day, may be seen on the pages Dawn and Evening.



As the sun sets, a fierce wind is blowing clouds over a ridge in the Cordillera de Tilarán, Costa Rica. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Orange evening sky behind Hindu pagodas, Durbar Square, Kathmandu, Nepal. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Sunset at Cigu Wetlands, near Tainan, Taiwan. The small trees in the foreground are mangroves. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Sunset over the Baltic Sea, with the island of Blå Jungfrun (‘Blue Maiden’), seen from Byrum, Öland, Sweden. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



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



Orange evening sky, Taichung, Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Clouds at sunset, Zonguldak, northern Turkey. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Morning sky above Lake Mono, California. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Towards evening, these otherwise white slopes near Houli, northern Taiwan, attain an orange hue. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Mist at sunset, Bagan, Myanmar. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Bright orange evening sky, dark clouds, and ducks, Oostvardersplassen, Flevoland, Holland. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Orange evening light on skyscrapers, Taichung, Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The male scarce copper (Lycaena virgaureae) is bright orange-red on the upperwing, with a black band and a very narrow white band along the edge. The female is much darker, with many black spots on the upperwing. It is found from southern Norway southwards through Denmark, Germany, and eastern France to Spain and Portugal, and to northern Greece, and thence eastwards to Central Asia.



Male scarce copper, central Jutland, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The orange-peel fungus (Aleuria aurantia), of the family Pyronemataceae, grows on bare soil. It is distributed throughout Europe, and in parts of Asia and North America, and has also been found in southern Chile.

The common name stems from its brilliantly orange, cup-shaped ascocarps, which often resemble orange peels, strewn on the ground. The specific name was applied in 1800 by mycologist Christiaan Hendrik Persoon (1761-1836), who was born in South Africa, but moved to Europe in his twenties. It is Latin, meaning ‘orange’ or ‘golden’, originally from the Arabic naranj and Ancient Persian narang, the name of the citrus fruit, which is today called orange in English (see Citrus x sinensis elsewhere on this page).



Orange-peel fungus, found at an altitude of 2,500 m, Helambu, central Nepal. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





Rust, forming patterns on a blue oil drum, Kosa Nikolaya Spit, Chukotka, Siberia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

Divided into 4 subspecies, the eastern newt (Notophthalmus viridescens) is distributed from the Great Lakes area eastwards to Nova Scotia, southwards to eastern Texas and Florida. It lives in ponds and streams, and may sometimes be encountered in nearby humid forests.

It may reach a total length of 14 cm, and some individuals are known to live for 15 years. Adults are greenish, sometimes brownish or yellowish, whereas juveniles are bright orange, called red efts. Both adults and juveniles have spots on the body. This species produces a neurotoxin named tetrodotoxin, which makes it unpalatable to fish and crayfish.

The specific name is Latin, meaning ‘greenish’, referring to the colour of most adults.



The nominate race, called red-spotted newt, is found from south-eastern Canada southwards to Alabama and Georgia. This juvenile was encountered in Pawtuckaway State Park, New Hampshire. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




In autumn 1948, Agnete Bisgaard was teaching biology to 6th graders in Aabenraa State School, southern Jutland, Denmark. She told them that there were two kinds of newts in Denmark, smooth newt (Lissotriton vulgaris) and great crested newt (Triturus cristatus). However, 12-year-old Uwe Hänel put up his finger and informed her that there was also a third species in Denmark, “the one with the red belly”, as he expressed it. By consulting a German book, he had identified it as alpine newt (Ichthyosaura alpestris). Agnete Bisgaard corrected him and said that there were only two species of newts in Denmark. Later, however, she became in doubt and told Uwe to show her this newt.

On April 2, 1949, a glass, containing water and duckweed, was standing outside the door of the biology classroom. Agnete Bisgaard immediately became curious and examined the content. To her great surprise, she was soon standing with a specimen of the alpine newt in her hand. The very same day, a packet, containing 3 alpine newts and some humid moss, was sent to the Zoological Museum in Copenhagen.

The following day, Agnete Bisgaard was informed that the identification was correct, and a new amphibian was added to the Danish list. The find was published in major newspapers, showing pictures of the 12-year-old school boy and the alpine newt.

Due to the initiative of professor Ragnar Spärck, the species was protected, and the statement said that “(…) the animal is protected in Denmark, and collecting it must only take place for scientific purposes, and with the proper permission from the Nature Conservation Council. Violation will be punished with a fine. (…) State Ministery, July 12, 1951.” (Source:



Alpine newt, Aabenraa, Denmark. One of the pictures also shows great crested newt, caught in the same area. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The orange (Citrus x sinensis) is a hybrid between pomelo (C. maxima) and mandarin (C. reticulata). It originated in China and was mentioned in Chinese literature as early as 314 B.C. (Source: Xu et al. 2013. The draft genome of sweet orange (Citrus sinensis). Nature Genetics 45: 59-66)

Incidentally, the name of the colour orange stems from the fruit – not the other way around. Before the introduction of the fruit, there was no expression for the colour orange, which was termed yellow or red. The name of the fruit was adopted from the Old French orange, which, in turn, was lent from the Italian arancia that was based on Arabic naranj, which was derived from the Sanskrit word for the fruit, naranga.



In warmer countries, the orange tree blossoms year-round. This tree on the Greek island of Crete displays flowers and fruit simultaneously. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



These people are preparing a huge pile of oranges to be sold at a market in the town of Weining, Guizhou Province, China. Each fruit is wrapped individually in a plastic bag. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



This street vendor in Varanasi, India, is selling fruits and vegetables, including oranges, eggplants, tomatoes, apples, and grapes. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Juice stand with inviting oranges, pomegranates, and bananas, Istanbul, Turkey. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The kumquat trees and fruits are among the smallest citrus species. They were previously placed in the genus Fortunella, but most authorities now regard them as belonging to the genus Citrus. Some consider them a single species, C. japonica, but recent genetic research indicates that there are 3 species, C. hindsii, C. margarita, and C. crassifolia, with the cultivar C. x japonica being a hybrid of the last two.

Kumquat originated in southern China. It was mentioned in Chinese literature at least as far back as the 12th Century. In Cantonese, it is called 金橘 (gam gwat), from gam (‘golden’) and gwat (‘orange’). In English, this was corrupted to kumquat or cumquat.

Today, it is widely cultivated in warmer areas of Asia.



Cultivated kumquat, Wufong, western Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The broad-headed skink (Plestiodon laticeps) is endemic to the south-eastern United States, from the Great Lakes area and Pennsylvania southwards to eastern Texas and northern Florida. It resembles the common five-lined skink (P. fasciatus), but can be distinguished by having five labial scales beneath the mouth, whereas the five-lined has only four.

The broad-headed skink was so named because of its wide jaws, giving the head a triangular appearance. The adult male is brownish, with a bright orange head in the mating season. The female has five light stripes running down the back and tail, similar to the five-lined skink.



Adult male broad-headed skink, Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The genus Brugmansia, popularly known as Angel’s trumpet, are about 7 species, which were previously included in the genus Datura (thornapples). They are native to tropical areas of South America, but several species are cultivated elsewhere due to the gorgeous flowers.

The generic name commemorates Dutch botanist and physician Sebald Justinus Brugmans (1763-1819), who is especially remembered for his expertise in the treatment of gangrene. The common name alludes to the trumpet-shaped flowers, which, however, are very poisonous, hence Angel’s, presumably the Death Angel.

Brugmansia suaveolens is a shrub to 5 m tall, often many-branched. Leaves are ovate or oblong, to 30 cm long and 15 cm wide, margin entire, tip pointed. Flowers are funnel-shaped, very fragrant at night, to 30 cm long, calyx green, inflated, to 12 cm long, with 5 elliptic lobes, corolla usually white with green base, tip with 5 spreading, pointed lobes. Some forms have yellow, orange, or pink flowers. It is native to Brazil, but is widely cultivated elsewhere due to the splendid flowers.

The specific name is derived from the Latin suavis (‘sweet’) and olens (‘fragrance’).



Orange-flowered form of Brugmansia suaveolens, naturalized near Lisong Hot Springs, Wulu, eastern Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Chinese elder (Sambucus javanica), also called Javan elder, is a shrub, growing to 4 m tall, which is distributed from India eastwards to China, Taiwan, and Japan, and thence southwards through Southeast Asia to Indonesia and the Philippines.

This plant grows on mountain slopes, along rivers, and in forests and grasslands, from the lowlands up to an altitude of c. 2,600 m. Its berries, which may be black, red, or orange, are edible, as are the flowers, and other parts of the plant are widely used in herbal medicine.

Other species of elder are described elsewhere on this website, common elder (S. nigra) on the page Plants: Plants in folklore and poetry, blue elder (S. cerulea), sometimes called Mexican elder (S. mexicana), on the page Plants: Plants of Sierra Nevada, and red elder (S. racemosa) on the page Plants: Plants of the Alps and the Pyrenees.



In Taiwan, the fruits of Chinese elder are orange. This picture is from Dasyueshan National Forest. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The red-belted conk (Fomitopsis pinicola), also known as red-banded polypore, is common on tree trunks, standing as well as toppled. It is found throughout temperate areas of Eurasia. It is often hoof-shaped, the oldest parts near the base being blackish, with bands of reddish, brownish, or orange towards the edge.



Red-belted conk, central Jutland, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The crucifix orchid, or fire-star orchid (Epidendrum radicans) is a splendid orchid, found from southern Mexico eastwards to Colombia and Venezuela, growing in a variety of habitats, including roadside banks, rocks, and various types of forest, at elevations between 900 and 2,500 m.

It has an erect or ascending stem, sometimes more than 1 m long, with numerous aerial roots, leaves to 8 cm long and 2.5 cm wide, inflorescence in a dense terminal umbel-like cluster, 25 to 60 cm long, flowers to 2.5 cm long, bright orange-red with a yellow, deeply 3-lobed lip. The shape of the flower gave rise to the common name crucifix orchid.



An abundance of crucifix orchids on a roadside bank, Cordillera de Tilarán, Costa Rica. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The common toad (Bufo bufo) is found throughout most of Europe (except Ireland, Iceland, and some Mediterranean islands), eastwards to central Siberia, in Turkey, and in north-western Africa. Females are larger than males, growing to about 15 cm long.

Previously, toads in the Caucasus were thought to be this species, but they have now been upgraded to a separate species, Bufo verrucosissimus.

The scientific name is the classical Latin term for toads.



Rare orange form of common toad, Møn, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The American toad (Anaxyrus americanus) lives in eastern North America, from eastern Manitoba and northern Quebec southwards to eastern Oklahoma, Louisiana, Alabama, and northern Georgia. It is very variable in pattern and colouration. Females grows to about 11 cm long, males to about 8.5 cm.

It was previously placed in the genus Bufo, and some authorities still regard Anaxyrus as a subgenus of that genus.



American toad, Meadow Brook Conservation Area, Haverhill, Massachusetts. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus) is a prostrate plant, usually below 10 cm tall, but occasionally growing to 25 cm. The leaves are wrinkled, with 6-7 lobes. The edible fruit is bright orange or amber-coloured. Unlike most other Rubus species, cloudberry has male and female flowers on separate plants, so to produce fruit, both types must be present.

It grows in arctic, subarctic, and temperate regions, southwards to southern Canada, Germany, Mongolia, and Japan.



Cloudberry, northern Jutland, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Another member of the genus is Yushan raspberry (Rubus hayata-koidzumii), which is endemic to Taiwan, where it grows at high elevations. This is reflected in its common name, which refers to the highest mountain in the island, Yu Shan (3952 m). It is also known as creeping raspberry, referring to its prostrate growth. The orange berries are delicious.

An alternative scientific name is R. calycinoides, meaning ‘like calycinus’, alluding to the likeness of the leaves to those of R. calycinus, which is distributed from the Himalaya eastwards to northern Indochina and south-western China.



Yushan raspberry, Hohuan Shan, central Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The gorgeous California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) is native to western United States and Mexico, but is widely cultivated and has become naturalized in several countries, including Chile. It was named in 1820 by German botanist Adelbert von Chamisso (1781-1838) in honour of his friend, German physician Johann Friedrich von Eschscholtz (1793-1831), who was his colleague on the Kotzebue scientific expedition to the Pacific 1815-1818, aboard the Russian brig Rurik.

The leaves were used medicinally by Native Americans. In modern herbal medicine, it is regarded as a mild sedative and relaxant, suitable for children. It improves sleep quality and can prevent nightmares. It is also taken for hyper-activity, headache, migraine, depression, and nerve pain.

The seeds are used in cooking. Formerly, the pollen was utilized cosmetically by Native Americans.

In 1903, California poppy became the official state flower of California.



California poppy often forms large growths, here on a slope near Oakhurst, California. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



California poppy, Montaña de Oro State Park, California. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Daoist festivals, and many other aspects of Daoism, are described in detail on the page Religion: Daoism in Taiwan.


Until recently, the so-called Boat Burning Festival was celebrated in certain fishing communities in southern Taiwan – a Daoist festival, during which a complete wooden boat was built, only to be burned as an offering to the god of diseases, Wang-yeh, hoping that he would 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 in later years this practice was abandoned, and the boat was burned on land.



The Boat Burning Festival is celebrated in the village of Jiading, near Kaoshiung. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




In 2018, I participated in the Daoist Tiger God Festival, which took place in the town of Shinggang, western Taiwan. This colourful festival is dedicated to the Tiger God, as well as the Mother Goddess Mazu.



A palanquin with a small figure, depicting the Tiger God, is carried past orange and yellow paper lanterns. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



During the Tiger God Festival, smoke from exploding fireworks assumes a surrealistic orange colour. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Wearing orange caps, these pilgrims are on their way to Bai Sa Wan Mazu, a Daoist temple dedicated to the Mother Goddess Mazu, situated in a sandy area near the town of Tongxiao, western Taiwan. The inscription on their hats says Bai Sa Tun (‘White Sand Village’). (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Participating in the same procession, this woman has tied a towel around her head as protection against the sun. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



This man has attached a small lamp to his cap. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




These pilgrims, wearing orange shirts, participate in a procession during a Buddhist festival in the town of Madou, near Tainan. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





Orange fungi on a dead branch, Masinagudi, Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu, India (top), and on a driftwood tree trunk in Tortuguero National Park, Limón, Costa Rica. They look very similar and may be closely related. In the lower picture, numerous beach morning-glories (Ipomoea pes-caprae) have sprouted around the trunk. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Silver birch (Betula pendula) is widespread and common from Europe and the Caucasus eastwards across Siberia to the Pacific, and thence southwards to China and Japan. The name birch is derived from Proto-Germanic berko, in all probability rooted in Sanskrit bhurja, the name of a species of birch.

This species is presented in depth on the page Plants: Ancient and huge trees.



Sawn silver birch branches, Funen, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




As its name implies, the desert globemallow (Sphaealcea ambigua) is partial to desert areas, found in all of the Mojave Desert, Great Basin Desert, and Sonoran Desert ecoregions, in the states California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico in the United States, and Sonora and Baja California in north-western Mexico.

This shrub, which is a member of the mallow family (Malvaceae), thrives on alkaline soil, sandy as well as clayey, up to an altitude of about 2,500 m.



Desert globemallow, encountered near Lake Saguaro, Arizona. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





Ochre-coloured and blackish rocks along the Tacijili River, Taroko Gorge, Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The fire lily (Lilium bulbiferum), also called orange lily or tiger lily, is a stout plant, growing to about 1.2 m tall. It is widely distributed in montane areas, at altitudes between 500 and 1,900 m, from the Pyrenees eastwards to the Carpathians, and from northern Germany (Harz Mountains) southwards to the Balkans. It is presented in depth on the page Plants: Flora of the Alps and the Pyrenees.



Fire lily, Passo Gardena, Dolomites, Italy. (Photos 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, southwards to South Africa, and also in the south-western part of the Arabian Peninsula.



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)





Hindu pilgrims, waiting in line to enter Sri Venkatesvara, a temple for the god Krishna, Tirumalai, Andhra Pradesh, India. Some have been tonsured, presenting their hair as an offering to the temple. (The hair is made into wigs). (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Spotted touch-me-not (Impatiens capensis) is a common species of balsam in most of North America, except along the Pacific, where it has become naturalized and is regarded as an invasive weed. It has also been introduced to several European countries, and to Japan.



Impatiens capensis, Beaver Lake, Long Island, New York State. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Columnea is a genus of about 200 species of epiphytic herbs and shrubs of the family Gesneriaceae, native to tropical areas of America and the Caribbean. They are characterized by their often large and brightly coloured, tubular or oddly shaped flowers. The generic name was applied by Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778) in honour of Italian naturalist Fabio Colonna (1567-1640), in Latin written Fabius Columnus.

Columnea purpurata is a shrubby herb, to 2 m long, growing on rocks or as an epiphyte. The stem and leaves are covered in white hairs, leaves often large, lanceolate, to 37 cm long and 11 cm wide. Inflorescences are dense, clustered along the stem, bracts and calyx bright orange, fuzzy, turning purple when drying (hence the specific name), corolla yellow, tubular, to 3 cm long, densely hairy.

The native range of this plant is from extreme southern Mexico through Central America to Colombia. It is used medicinally.



Columnea purpurata, Volcán Arenal National Park, Cordillera de Tilarán, Costa Rica. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The native range of the Asian palmyra palm (Borassus flabellifer) is the Indian Subcontinent and Indochina, with disjunct populations in Java and the Lesser Sunda Islands. Its fruit is edible and sweet. A sugary sap, called toddy, can be obtained from the young inflorescence. It is fermented to make palm wine or a strong alcoholic drink, arrack. It may also be concentrated to a sweet, hard substance, in India called jaggery. It is used as a substitute for sugar. Palm wine is consumed in huge quantities in India and Sri Lanka.



The fibers of the fruit of Asian palmyra palm are bright orange. – Angkor Wat, Cambodia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The areca palm, or betel palm (Areca catechu), is the type species of the entire palm family (Arecaceae). The generic name is derived from a local South Indian name of this palm, either from Tamil areec, or from Malayalam atekka. The specific name is derived from a Malayan name of the species, caccu.

This palm is believed to have originated in the Philippines, but is widely cultivated elsewhere in tropical and subtropical areas of Asia, in New Guinea, in the West Indies, and on many Pacific Ocean islands.

Its nut, called betel nut, is an ingredient in betel, a mild intoxicant, consisting of a leaf from the betel bush (Piper betle), which is wrapped around bits of areca nut and, according to your taste, tobacco or spices, taken with a small amount of lime. Chewing this mixture increases your spit production, and your saliva turns brick-red. Blotches of betel spit are ubiquitous in many Asian countries – on streets, house walls, stairs, and elsewhere.



In Taiwan, areca palms are cultivated by the millions, as about every other man is chewing the intoxicant. These pictures show the lower trunk of a tree, covered in orange moss cushions, Beishan, near Puli (top), and fallen, ripe nuts, observed near Gukeng. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Common, or black alder (Alnus glutinosa) is native to the major part of Europe, south-western Asia, and northern Africa. It thrives in wet locations, living in symbiosis with a nitrogen-fixing actinomycete bacterium, Frankia alni. These bacteria cause the growth of coral-like nodules on the roots of the trees, inside which thick-walled cells are formed, housing the bacteria. Protected here against the harmful oxygen of the air, the bacteria change nitrogen into nitrates, which can be utilized by the alder trees. This is the reason that these trees are able to grow in oxygen-poor soils. The nitrates enrich the soil, making it possible for other plants to grow in these poor soils.



When trunks of common alder are cut, the wood changes colour to orange, and later reddish-brown. – Funen, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Nightshade (Solanum) is one of the largest plant genera in the world, counting more than 1,300 species, including a number of very important food plants, e.g. potato (S. tuberosum), tomato (S. lycopersicum), tomato tree (S. betaceum), and eggplant (S. melongena).

The generic name is of unknown origin, possibly derived from the Latin sol (’sun’) referring to the fact that plants of this genus prefer to grow in sunny places.

Fruits of these plants may be red, orange, yellow, or black. Two species with orange fruits are described below, whereas others are presented on the pages In praise of the colour red, and Plants: Plants in folklore and poetry.


Indian nightshade (Solanum indicum, also called S. violaceum) is native to the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia. It is a shrubby herb to 3 m tall, with spiny stems and sometimes also spines along the veins of the large, wavy leaves. The rather small berries, to 2 cm diameter, are orange or yellow.



Indian nightshade is a common escape in the lowlands of Taiwan, here photographed at the outskirts of the city Taichung. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Jerusalem cherry (Solanum pseudocapsicum) is widely cultivated as a house plant. It is native to the northern Andes, but has escaped in many other areas. In South Africa, India, Australia, and New Zealand, it is regarded as an unwanted weed. All parts of the plant are poisonous, especially the unripe fruits.

The specific name, meaning ‘the false capsicum’, refers to the leaves, which resemble those of green pepper (Capsicum).

The common name Jerusalem cherry is a misnomer, as the plant does not bear cherries, and it is not native to the area around Jerusalem. The name may simply stem from some gardener, who brought back the plant from Jerusalem and attached the name to the plant without researching its true native area. (Source:

Another common name, Madeira winter cherry, stems from the time when Portuguese sailors brought the plant from South America to Madeira. From here, it was introduced to Europe, where it became a status symbol among the upper classes.



Jerusalem cherry, naturalized near Sanyi, Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Chihuahuan flax (Linum vernale), also known as red-eyed flax, is a slender, erect plant, to 50 cm tall, with yellowish-orange or salmon-coloured, bowl-shaped flowers with a maroon or reddish-orange center. It grows in open shrubberies and woodlands, mostly on limestone, at elevations between 1,200 and 2,400 m.

This species has a rather limited distribution, found in southern New Mexico and western Texas, and in the Mexican states Chihuahua and Coahuila. It is common in parts of the Chihuahuan Desert.



Chihuahuan flax, Seminole Canyon, Texas. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Rohida (Tecomella undulata) is a tree of the family Bignoniaceae, which grows in desert areas from Oman eastwards through southern Iran and Pakistan to the Thar Desert of Rajasthan, north-western India.



Camels, resting beneath a flowering rohida tree, Thar Desert. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





The bright orange colour and long hairs of this caterpillar probably announce to birds and other animals, which might want to eat it, that it is toxic, or has a bad taste. It was encountered at Phnom Kbal Spean, Angkor Wat, Cambodia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The silk-cotton tree (Bombax ceiba), also called Indian kapok tree or simal, is a large tree of the mallow family (Malvaceae), native to Tropical Asia, southern China, and northern Australia. It is widely cultivated elsewhere for its gorgeous flowers, which are bright red in wild populations. In Taiwan, however, where the pictures below were taken, a cultivated form with orange flowers is very popular.

This species has countless medicinal usages, and is also utilized for many other purposes, described on the page Plants: Plants in folklore and poetry.



Flowering silk-cotton trees, Tunghai University Park, Taichung, Taiwan. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Fallen flowers form a carpet on a lawn in Tunghai University Park. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Many bird species feed in flowers of the silk-cotton tree, in this case a Japanese white-eye (Zosterops japonicus), Tunghai University Park. This bird is described on the page Animals – Birds: Birds in Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





Acrobats, performing with flags, Taichung, Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





Hindus very often present mallas (garlands made from marigolds and other flowers) as offerings to images of gods and other sacred places. In this picture from Kathmandu, Nepal, the woman in the background is selling such garlands. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Sea-buckthorn (Hippophaë) is a small genus, comprising 7 spiny shrubs of the oleaster family (Elaeagnaceae), distributed from western Europe eastwards to the Far East. The yellow, orange, or red berries grow in dense clusters along the branches. They are edible, being a rich source of vitamins C, A, B, E, and K, and also of carotenoids. Lately, research has shown that they may have anti-ageing and memory-restoring properties.

Common sea-buckthorn (Hippophaë rhamnoides) is found from Ireland and southern Scandinavia southwards to the Mediterranean, eastwards through Russia to Xinjiang and Mongolia, and thence southwards to Pakistan and Ladakh, north-western Himalaya.



Common sea-buckthorn, northern Jutland, Denmark. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Pansies (Junonia), in America called buckeyes, are a worldwide genus, comprising about 33 species of butterflies of the huge brushfoot family (Nymphalidae).

The peacock pansy (Junonia almana) was named due to its large, bluish ‘peacock eyes’ on the orange wings. This species is distributed from India and Sri Lanka eastwards to China, Taiwan, and Japan, and thence southwards to the Indonesian Archipelago and the Philippines. It is very common, living in a wide variety of habitats up to an altitude of about 500 m, occasionally up to 1,000 m.



Peacock pansy, Taichung, Taiwan. (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. Wild populations have red flowers, whereas cultivated forms may be orange or yellow.



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




Yellow stagshorn (Calocera viscosa), also known as yellow false coral, is a member of the family Dacrymycetaceae, which is characterized by usually having branched basidia. It grows on coniferous wood and is widely distributed in the Northern Hemisphere.



Yellow stagshorn, Propang Danda, Langtang National Park, central Nepal. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Asiatic sweetleaf (Symplocos paniculata) is a small tree, sometimes to 12 m high, which was formerly placed in the tea family (Theaceae), but has now been moved to a separate family, Symplocaceae. It is also called sapphire-berry due to its bright blue fruits.

The native range of this species is from Pakistan eastwards across the Himalaya to Southeast Asia, southern China, Taiwan, and Japan. In the Himalaya, it grows between 1,000 and 2,700 metres altitude, but elsewhere it may be found down to sea level.

It is widely cultivated due to its pretty flowers and gorgeous blue berries, which are eagerly sought out by birds. It has become naturalized in some places, including the United States, where it has been declared an invasive species.



Orange winter leaves of Asiatic sweetleaf. This species is widely planted in city parks in Taiwan, in this case in Taichung. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Yellow everlasting (Helichrysum arenarium) is widely distributed, from western Europe eastwards to Xinjiang and Mongolia, southwards to the Mediterranean and northern Iran. Formerly, in Russia, it was called ‘immortality herb’ due to its medicinal properties. Its leaves were also used as flavouring in meat dishes.



Honey bee, gathering orange pollen in flowers of yellow everlasting (Helichrysum arenarium), Jutland, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





Cultivated honeysuckle, Lonicera brownii ‘Dropmore Scarlet’, Jutland, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The tree sparrow (Passer montanus) has a huge distribution, from western Europe across Central Asia to Japan, and thence southwards through Southeast Asia to Indonesia and the Philippines.

Several pictures, depicting this bird, may be seen on the pages Animals – Birds: Birds in Taiwan, and Animals: Urban animal life.



The tree sparrow is very common in Taiwan, where it has taken over the role of the house sparrow (P. domesticus) as a city bird, as the latter is not found on the island. These birds are sitting on an orange metal sculpture in the city of Taichung. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The yellow-poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), also called tulip tree, whitewood, or fiddle-tree, is one of the largest East American trees, sometimes reaching a height of 60 m, with a trunk diameter up to 3 m. This popular tree is the state tree of Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

The generic name, from the Greek leirion (‘lily’) and dendron (‘tree’), as well as the name tulip tree, refer to the large flowers, which superficially resemble lilies or tulips. However, it belongs to the magnolia family (Magnoliaceae). The popular name fiddle-tree refers to the peculiar shape of the leaves, which sometimes resemble small violins.



The large flowers of yellow-poplar have bright orange blotches near the centre. – These fallen flowers were encountered in Shu Swamp, Long Island. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Mountain pine (Pinus mugo) is native to southern Europe, from the Pyrenees via the Alps and the Apennines to the Carpathians, and thence southwards to higher mountains of the Balkan Peninsula. Since the late 1700s, it has been widely planted elsewhere, especially in Scandinavia, Finland, and the Baltic countries, often planted in coastal regions to stabilize sand dunes. In Scandinavia, it has spread beyond control and become invasive, displacing natural plants in dunes and heaths.



Orange male inflorescences of mountain pine, Fanø, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Pitch pine (Pinus rigida) is a native of eastern North America, found from extreme southern Ontario and Quebec, southwards through New England to Kentucky and the northern tip of Georgia. The name pitch pine refers to the resin, which is extracted from it.



Stump of pitch pine, Pine Barrens, New Jersey, United States. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The place of origin of the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera) is unknown, and today it is found everywhere along tropical coasts, in some areas also inland.

This species is utilized for countless purposes. Oil from the nuts, and also dried copra, is used for cooking and in lamps. Mats, weaved from the leaves, are used as walls and roofs in houses, and mats and rope are produced from the fibres in the husk. Charcoal is made from the shells, and the trunk is utilized as timber and firewood.



Orange morning sky behind coconut palms, east of Colva, Goa, India. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Withering leaf of a coconut palm, Tortuguero National Park, Limón, Costa Rica. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





Small sail boats, called felucca, on the Nile at sunset, Luxor, Egypt. Other pictures, depicting this boat type, are shown on the page Culture: Boats and ships. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Orange fleabane (Erigeron aurantiacus), in horticulture known as orange daisy, is native to Central Asia, where it often forms large growths in subalpine meadows. The stem is to 35 cm tall, flowerheads solitary, ray florets usually bright orange, disc florets orange or yellow. In horticulture, forms with bright red or yellow ray florets occur.



Orange fleabane is very common in Kyrgyzstan, where these pictures were taken. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





This Jain pilgrim, clad in an orange lungi (sarong), and carrying a metal jar with sacred water and a flower garland, makes his way up the steep rock Vindhyagiri, Sravanabelagola, Karnataka, India, on whose top a gigantic statue of the Jain saint Bahubali (Gomateswara) is situated. This statue is shown on the page Religion: Jainism. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





Evening sun on a willow (Salix), Portland, Maine, United States. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





Fruits of an unidentified palm species, Cahuita National Park, Limón, Costa Rica. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





Orange kittens, Funen, Denmark. The domestic cat is described on the page Animals: Animals as servants of Man. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





Orange composite, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





Fish eggs for sale, Lugang, Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Orange algae are mostly observed in subtropical and tropical areas.



Orange algae, growing on a stone wall, Alishan National Forest, Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Orange-red algae, grey lichens, and green mosses on a rock, Umbal Valley, Virgen Valley, Tyrol, Austria. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Orange algae on the trunk of a spruce, northern Jutland, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Orange algae, growing on a pylon, Ohakune, New Zealand. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



This Khmer relief, depicting a Hindu goddess or a noble lady, is partly covered by orange algae. – Bayon, Angkor Thom, Cambodia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



This house wall in Alishan National Forest, Taiwan, has acquired patina from an orange alga, growing on it. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Crepe-myrtles (Lagerstroemia) are a genus with about 50 species of trees and shrubs, native from the Indian Subcontinent eastwards to southern China, Taiwan, and Japan, and thence southwards through Indochina, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and New Guinea to northern Australia and some islands in the Pacific Ocean. Due to their beautiful flowers, many species are cultivated in numerous warmer areas.

The genus was named by Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778) in honour of a friend, merchant Magnus von Lagerström (1696-1759), who was director of the Swedish East India Company. Lagerström was a keen naturalist, and, despite never visiting Asia, he was able to procure many specimens from India and China, which he presented to Linnaeus. (Source: E. Bretschneider 1898. History of European Botanical Discoveries in China)

Chinese crepe-myrtle (Lagerstroemia subcostata) is a smallish tree, to 14 m tall, with a characteristic smooth and pale bark, which makes you think that the tree is dead. Leaves short-stalked, oblong or ovate, to 4.8 cm long and 2.5 cm broad, pointed. Flowers purple or white in hairy terminal panicles to 15 cm across, petals 6, to 6 mm long, wrinkled. The fruit is an ellipsoid capsule, to 8 mm long.

It is native to Japan, Taiwan, China, and the Philippines, growing in forests and along streams, from low to medium elevations.



The trunk of Chinese crepe-myrtle is sometimes orange, as on this tree, observed along the Walami Trail, Yushan National Park, eastern Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





Boys with cymbals during a festival in a Hindu temple, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Golden dewdrop (Duranta erecta) is a small shrub of the vervain family (Verbenaceae), which is native from Mexico and the Caribbean southwards to Paraguay and Argentina. Elsewhere in warmer countries, it is widely cultivated as an ornamental and has become naturalized in many places. It is regarded as an invasive species in a number of countries, including Australia, China, and South Africa, and on several islands in the Pacific.

Other common names of this plant include pigeon berry and Brazilian skyflower, and in Tonga it is known as mavaetangi (‘tears of departure’), alluding to the fruit, which is a small, globose, yellow or orange berry, to 1 cm across. Unripe berries are toxic and are known to have killed children, dogs and cats. Birds, however, are not harmed by the berries.

The generic name was given in honour of Italian physician, botanist, and poet Gualdo Tadino (1529-1590), better known as Castore Durante da Gualdo.

A picture, depicting the flowers, is shown on the page In praise of the colour blue.



Berries of golden dewdrop, Taichung, Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The gorgeous Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar, is presented in depth on the page Religion: Buddhism.



The Shwedagon Pagoda is illuminated in the evening. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Scarlet milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) is a native of the West Indies, but is widely cultivated as an ornamental in tropical and subtropical areas and has become naturalized in many areas.

According to Kew Bulletin (1897), this species has insecticidal properties, being especially obnoxious to fleas. Infected rooms are thoroughly swept with brooms, made from this plant, and the pests are said to disappear. Its medicinal usage is described on the page Plants: Plants in folklore and poetry.

In his delightful book All about Weeds, American botanist Edwin Spencer (1881-1964) writes about pollination of milkweeds:

“(…) they have one of the most distinct flowers of the plant kingdom. It is made for the purpose of tricking insects in order that cross fertilization may be assured. (…) insects attempting to get nectar from the cups in the flower. There are five of these cups on each flower, and they usually are found hanging mouth downward. They are very smooth, and a foot of the insect that tries to alight on one of them invariably slips off and lands on the slit, which lies between two of the cups. This is exactly what should happen; the very purpose for which the flower was made. In that slit lies the male principle of the flower in such a position that it may never come in contact with the female organ, unless it is pulled out and pulled in again. So the foot of the insect goes into the slit and finds itself caught as if between two tough little wires. If the insect is strong enough, a jerk or two will bring out the foot, and along with it two little bags of pollen, which ride away on the insect’s leg to another flower, where the foot again slips into a slit, but this time carrying the pollen bags (…) right down upon the stigmatic surface of the female organ. There the bags stay, and the pollen in them develops as it should (…). Of course, that same insect leg may come out of the second flower slit with two more bags of pollinia hanging to it like two little saddle bags. (…) it takes a strong leg to do this work, and strong insects are sometimes seen with several bags of pollinia hanging to their legs. If the insect is not strong enough, he pays dearly for the sip of nectar he gets. (…) if he cannot pay for that nectar by carrying away to another flower those two little pollinia bags, he hangs there until he dies (…).”



Scarlet milkweed, naturalized in Central Taiwan Science Park, Taichung, Taiwan. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Even though the Daurian redstart (Phoenicurus auroreus) is called redstart, it is more orange than red. The male has orange-red breast, belly, and tail, black face, throat, and back, greyish crown and nape, and a prominent white wing-patch.

Like most of the 14 species in this genus, the Daurian redstart is strongly sexually dimorphic, the female being pale brown with an orange-red tail. Like the male, however, it has a prominent white wing-patch.

It 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.



Daurian redstart is a common winter visitor to Taiwan. This picture shows a male, photographed in Tunghai University Park, Taichung. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Female, east of Sanxing, near Yilan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





Orange mineral deposits, Monumento Natural El Morado, Chile. (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’).

Other pictures, depicting these lilies, may be studied on the page Quotes on nature.



This orange-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)





Ochre-coloured stone, Lossar, Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, India. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





Colourful beetle, Taichung, Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Papaya (Carica papaya) is a small tree of the family Caricaceae, normally below 10 m tall, with a straight trunk, which is usually unbranched. The trunk is covered in scars from the large leaves, to 70 cm across, which are deeply palmately divided, usually with 7 lobes. The fragrant white flowers are borne in the leaf axils, males and females on separate plants. The fruit is a huge sweet-tasting berry, sometimes to 45 cm long and 30 cm broad.

The native area of this plant is thought to be southern Mexico or Central America, but as it has been cultivated in this area for thousands of years, it is a matter of speculation. Today, it is cultivated in numerous countries with a tropical or subtropical climate.

The generic name is the feminine form of the adjective Caricus, a shortening of Caria and ficus (‘fig’), thus ‘the fig from Caria’, in Ancient Greek Karia, a Greek province in present-day south-western Turkey. This name was applied by Swedish naturalist Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778) in 1753, perhaps referring to the sweet taste of the fruit.

The specific name is the name of the plant in an Arawak language, which was adopted by the Spaniards.



A tray with inviting slices of papaya, Taichung, Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The oriental hard fern (Blechnum orientale) is a large plant, with fronds sometimes reaching a length of 2 m. It is distributed from the Indian Subcontinent eastwards to southern China, Taiwan, and southern Japan, and thence southwards through Southeast Asia to New Guinea, Australia, and islands in the western Pacific. Elsewhere, it is cultivated as an ornamental, and plants are sometimes harvested from the wild to be used for food or medicine.



Young leaf of oriental hard fern, Nanren Lake, Kenting National Park, Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Minivets (Pericrocotus) are about 15 species of passerines, belonging to the cuckoo-shrike family (Campephagidae). They live in forests from eastern Iran and Afghanistan eastwards across the Indian Subcontinent and China to Russian Ussuriland, and thence southwards through Japan, Taiwan, Southeast Asia, and the Philippines to Indonesia.

Several of the species are very colourful, the males displaying a predominantly bright red plumage, the females predominantly a yellow plumage.

The brilliantly coloured orange minivet (P. flammeus) lives in dense forests, from western India and Sri Lanka eastwards to southern China, and thence southwards through Southeast Asia to Indonesia. Formerly, this species was regarded as a subspecies of the scarlet minivet, which is now called P. speciosus.

Other species of minivet are described on the pages Animals – Birds: Birds in Taiwan, and Animals – Birds: Birds in Bagan.



Male orange minivet, Anshi National Park, Karnataka, India. The female is yellow and black. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Diospyros is a genus of more than 700 species of deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs of the family Ebenaceae, distributed worldwide in subtropical and tropical regions. Species with edible fruits are called persimmons, whereas species with heavy and dark timber are known as ebony trees.

The generic name is derived from Ancient Greek dios (Zeus) and pyros (‘wheat’), thus ‘Zeus’s wheat’, in a broader context translated as ‘divine food’. It alludes to the fruit of the Caucasian persimmon (D. lotus). The word persimmon stems from pichamins (‘dried fruit’), the Powhatan word for an American species of the genus.

The oriental persimmon (D. kaki), which has a sweet, slightly tangy fruit, is native to southern China, Taiwan, northern Vietnam, and Assam in north-eastern India. It was first cultivated in China more than 2,000 years ago, and cultivation spread to Japan in the 7th Century, to Korea in the 14th Century, and to southern Europe, California, and Brazil in the 19th Century.

Kaki is the Japanese name of this species.



Oriental persimmons on the tree, near the town of Xinpu, northern Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Dried persimmons are considered a delicacy in Taiwan. These are drying on scaffolds near Xinpu. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




In traditional Chinese medicine, centipedes are called ’heavenly dragons’, and medicine made from them is used for various ailments, including tetanus, seizures, headache, cancer, and snakebite. It is also employed to treat wounds and serious skin problems. This medicine, however, is very poisonous and should be used with caution.



I encountered this c. 20 cm long centipede in a limestone cave in Niah National Park, Sarawak, Borneo. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Orange hawkweed (Pilosella aurantiaca) is a beautiful composite of open grasslands and wastelands, which is native to the major part of Europe, as well as north-western and central parts of Asia. The colour of the flowerheads varies from orange to bright red.

This pretty plant has been introduced to a number of other countries, including England, Ireland, the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. However, it easily escapes and often becomes invasive, and in the latter two countries, import of the plant is prohibited.

In England, it has a number of peculiar common names, including fox-and-cubs, Devil’s paintbrush, and Grim the Collier. The name fox-and-cubs refers to the fact that the flowerheads on a plant do not all open at the same time. An open flowerhead is likened to a fox, whereas the still closed flowerheads on either side of it are the cubs. The name Devil’s paintbrush probably alludes to the numerous black hairs on the involucre (the leaves surrounding the flowerhead).

The name Grim the Collier takes some explanation. It was first mentioned in connection with the plant, in the form Grimme the Collier, by herbalist John Gerard (c. 1545-1612) in his Herball from 1597. The name appears in a play from about 1564, Damon and Pythias, by Richard Edwardes, which was performed for Queen Elizabeth I. One of the characters in this play is Grim the Collier (‘Grim the coal miner’), who was described as being “of a right Croydon sanguine” – a term applied to persons with auburn hair and tawny skin. The name of course refers to the orange or red flowerheads, and to the black hairs on the involucre, which are likened to the coal dust in a miner’s beard.



Orange hawkweed, Nature Reserve Vorsø, Horsens Fjord, Denmark. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





During a ceremony, in which a boy is being initiated as a Buddhist monk, members of his family are photographed together with two orange-clad monks, Wat Benchamabophit (‘Marble Temple’), Bangkok, Thailand. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





Morning sun on pumpkins, cultivated for use at the Halloween Festival (‘Day-of-the Dead’), Funen, Denmark. This festival is described on the page Religion: Christianity. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Due to its resemblance with the true chanterelles, the false chanterelle (Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca) was formerly regarded as being edible. The truth is that it has very little taste, and it is also slightly poisonous and may cause stomach ache.

When he described it in 1781, Austrian naturalist Franz Xaver von Wulfen (1728-1805) noted that it differed from the true chanterelles. Research has shown that it is not even distantly related to them, and it is now placed in a separate family, Hygrophoropsidaceae.

It is widely distributed across the Northern Hemisphere, being very common in coniferous forests, but may also grow in deciduous forests and heathland. Research indicates that it may constitute several species.



False chanterelles in a coniferous plantation, Jutland, Denmark. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The American painted lady (Vanessa virginiensis) is distributed in most of the United States, southern Canada, the Caribbean, and Central America. It is a regular visitor to western Europe, and a small resident population is found on the Canary Islands.



American painted lady, Oswego Forest, Pine Barrens, New Jersey, United States. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Flame-vine (Pyrostegia venusta), also called orange trumpetvine, is a climber of the family Bignoniaceae. It is a native of Brazil, but due to its brilliant flowers it was introduced to numerous other countries at an early stage.

The generic name is from the Greek pyro (‘fire’) and stegia (‘cover’), the former referring to the flower colour, the latter to its vigorous climbing habit, as it will often cover entire buildings. The specific name stems from Ancient Italian wenostos (‘beautiful’).



Flame-vine, covering a fence in the city of Taichung, Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Orange lichens often cover rocks, or trunks of old trees and other plants.



Orange and grey lichens on a rock, Col du Mt. Cenis, French Alps. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Colourful orange and yellow lichens on a rock, Pinnacles National Park, California. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Together with a dark species of moss, this orange lichen creates patterns on a slanting rock, Grossglockner, Austria. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Orange lichens on rocks, Sanetti Plateau, Bale Mountains National Park, Ethiopia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Orange lichens of the genus Xanthoria, belonging to the family Teloschistaceae, are distributed worldwide, growing commonly on tree bark, walls, or rocks. They may be identified by the distinctive sporocarps (fruiting bodies), popularly called ‘fairy cups’.

Common orange lichen (X. parietina), also known as yellow scale or shore lichen, has a very wide distribution, found in most of Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and North America. As it is one of the few lichens, which is favoured by eutrophication, it is very common on rocks, large trees, roofs, walls, etc.

The specific name, from the Latin paries (‘wall’), was applied by Swedish naturalist Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778) in 1753.



Common orange lichen, growing on a branch of an old common oak (Quercus robur), Bornholm, Denmark. Plenty of sporocarps are present. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



A species of orange lichen, probably Xanthoria aureola, creates patterns on a coastal rock on Bornholm. As opposed to the common orange lichen, this species produces very few sporocarps. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Xanthoria aureola, growing on the concrete wall of a German bunker from World War II, Fanø, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The wall brown (Lasiommata megera) is widely distributed, from southern Scandinavia and the British Isles southwards to northern Africa, and across the Middle East to Central Asia. It lives in open areas, in some mountain areas up to an elevation of 3,000 m.



Wall brown, Bornholm, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Orange milkwort (Polygala lutea) is found in eastern United States, from southern Maine southwards to Florida, and thence westwards to Louisiana. It is especially common in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. The specific name is Latin for ‘yellow’, referring to the distinctive colour of the flowers when dried. When fresh, they are bright orange, differing from most other milkworts, which have blue, pinkish, or white flowers.



Orange milkwort, Carolina Beach State Park, North Carolina. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The robin (Erithacus rubecula) is distributed in Europe, eastwards to western Siberia and southwards to North Africa and the Canary Islands. In the major part of its distribution area, the bird is sedentary, northern populations spending the winter further south.

Despite its bright orange breast, the original English name of the bird was redbreast. Orange, as a colour name, was unknown in English until the introduction of oranges in the 16th Century. In the 15th Century it became popular to give human names to familiar species, and the bird came to be known as robin redbreast, which was eventually shortened to robin. (Source: D. Lack 1950. Robin Redbreast. Clarendon Press, Oxford).

Robins on the Canarian Islands Gran Canaria and Tenerife are quite distinct by having a smaller, more reddish patch on the breast, a white eye-ring, and greyish rather than brownish upperparts. Their song is also different, somewhat like the song of song thrush (Turdus philomelos). They may constitute a separate species.



Robin, Hamburg, Germany. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Tenerife robin, ssp. superbus, Icod de los Vinos, Tenerife, Canary Islands. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





Fishing boats, pulled up on a rocky coast, Iconi, Grande Comore, Comoro Islands. In the background are huts, built under coconut trees (Cocos nucifera). (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Common lantana (Lantana camara), also called a number of other names, including feston rose plant, West Indian lantana, and Spanish flag, is a small shrub of the vervain family (Verbenaceae), which can grow to a height of about 2 m. The inflorescences come in many different colours, including red, orange, yellow, pink, or white, often several colours in a single inflorescence.

This plant is native to the American tropics, but due to its pretty flowers it has been introduced almost worldwide. In warmer countries, it often escapes, and as it is toxic to grazing animals, it often forms large thickets, out-competing natural vegetation.

Two of the colour forms of this plant, red and yellow, gave rise to the popular name Spanish flag, due to the similarity of these colours to the ones in the Spanish national flag.



Orange-flowered form of common lantana, growing on a dike around the Aogu Wetlands, south-western Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The brightly coloured cinnabar moth (Tyria jacobaeae) is native from Europe eastwards across Siberia and Central Asia to China. Its larvae feed on tansy ragwort (Senecio jacobaea), and the moth has been introduced to Australia, New Zealand, and North America to control this invasive weed. Females lay up to 300 eggs on the underside of ragwort leaves. The caterpillars absorb toxins from the plant, and their bright orange-yellow colour, alternating with black bars, announces to most birds that they are unpalatable. However, cuckoos eat them, as they are able to neutralize the toxins.



Caterpillars of cinnabar moth, feeding on tansy ragwort, Zealand, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The apricot tree (Prunus armeniaca) has been cultivated in China as far back as 1000 B.C., or maybe earlier. In Armenia, it has also been cultivated for millenia, and it was previously assumed that it originated there, reflected in its specific name, applied in 1753 by Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778). However, genetic studies indicate that it originated in Central Asia.



Apricots, Mangyu (top), and Ulley Topko, Ladakh, northern India. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Weaverbirds are a family of passerines, Ploceidae, comprising 15 genera, many of which are characterized by their intricately woven nests, made from strips of grass blades, palm leaves, or other vegetation.

The male golden palm weaver (Ploceus bojeri) is bright yellow with an orange head. This bird has a rather restricted distribution, found in extreme southern Ethiopia, southern Somalia, and eastern Kenya. It lives in savanna, preferably along rivers.



This male golden palm weaver is performing courtship display, sitting on the stem of a galingale (Cyperus), Meru National Park, Kenya. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Northern red oak (Quercus rubra), also known as champion oak, is a large tree, sometimes growing to 40 m tall, with a trunk diameter up to 1 m. It is native to the eastern half of North America, from the Great Lakes area and Nova Scotia southwards to Arkansas and Georgia. It is extensively cultivated in Europe.



Withering leaf of northern red oak, Acadia National Park, Maine. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Lychee (Litchi chinensis) is a tropical tree, which is native to south-eastern China, where it has been cultivated as far back as the 11th Century. However, due to the sweet flesh of its fruit, it is cultivated in many other places, including Southeast Asia, India, and South Africa. It is the sole member of the genus Litchi, which belongs to the soapberry family (Sapindaceae).



New leaves of lychee are often orange, here photographed in western Taiwan. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





These members of the Shan minority, who pay a visit to the Lawkananda Pagoda, Bagan, Myanmar, wear bright orange headcloths. (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, eastwards to Kashmir, northern India. In America, it is replaced by the very similar fragrant 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, depicting blue waterlily (N. caerulea) is shown on the page 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 orange-yellow. The pond is filled with a yellowish species of alga. The green stems in the foreground are common spike-rush (Eleocharis palustris). (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





Coral spot (Nectria cinnabarina) is common on dead branches in cool, temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. It may sometimes become a parasite, for instance if a tree has been weakened by a wound. – Funen, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Males of the orange-headed gecko (Gonatodes albogularis) are very colourful, whereas the females are greyish. This species has a very wide distribution, found in many Caribbean islands, and from Mexico eastwards to northern South America. Formerly, it was also present in southern Florida, but this population died out in the 1990s.



Male orange-headed gecko, Cahuita National Park, Limón, Costa Rica. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




As its name implies, the Canary Islands date palm (Phoenix canariensis) is endemic in the Canary Islands. It grows to 20 m tall, occasionally to 40 m, with pinnate leaves to 6 m long and with 80-100 leaflets on both sides of the central rachis. The fruit is an oval, yellow to orange drupe to 2 cm long. It is edible, but not very tasty.



Fruiting Canary Islands date palm, Masca, Tenerife. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The orange weaver ant (Oecophylla smaragdina) has a wide distribution, found in India, Southeast Asia, the Philippines, Indonesia, and northern Australia.

The name weaver ant stems from their nest, which is made by ‘weaving’ together leaves, using larval silk. A colony of these ants may include several nests in a single tree, or the nests may be spread over several adjacent trees. In one instance, a colony occupied 151 nests, distributed among 12 trees. A colony may count up to half a million individuals. Each colony has a single queen in one nest, from which her progeny is carried to other nests. (Source:, with a list of references)



Orange weaver ants, sitting on their nest, Siem Reap, Cambodia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Popular names of Leonotis nepetifolia, a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae), include Christmas candlestick and lion’s ear. This plant is native to tropical Africa, the Indian Subcontinent, and parts of Indochina. It has been introduced elsewhere and has escaped in many places, especially Latin America and the West Indies.

The inflorescences are whorls of pretty, orange flowers, arranged up the stem, which may grow to 3 m tall. Occasionally, plants with red, white, or purple flowers may be encountered.

In Trinidad, the leaves are brewed as tea for treatment of fever, coughs, womb prolapse, and malaria.

The pictures below were taken in Bagan, Myanmar. A Buddhist pagoda is seen as a silhouette in one of the pictures, and the bird in the upper picture is a male purple sunbird (Cinnyris asiaticus), sucking nectar from the flowers. Other pictures, depicting this bird, are presented on the page Animals – Birds: Birds in Bagan.



(Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





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




Orange-tip (Anthocharis cardamines), of the family Pieridae, is named for the orange wingtips of the male. The female lacks the orange colour and resembles cabbage whites (Pieris).

This species is distributed in the major part of Europe and temperate parts of Asia, eastwards to Japan. Its larvae feed on leaves of various members of the cabbage family (Brassicaceae), preferably cuckoo-flower (Cardamine pratensis) and garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata).



Male orange-tip, sucking nectar in a flower of blue-eyed Mary (Omphalodes verna), Møn, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Hawk’s-beard (Crepis) constitute a huge genus, comprising about 200 species, distributed in the Northern Hemisphere and Africa, with a core area around the Mediterranean. The generic name is derived from the Greek krepis (‘slipper’ or ‘sandal’), according to some authorities referring to the shape of the fruit.

In my opinion, the most beautiful member of this genus is golden hawk’s-beard (C. aurea), which is distributed in European mountains, in the Jura, the Alps, the Apennines, the Abruzzos, and on the Balkans, and it is also found in Asia Minor. In the Alps, it grows in meadows and pastures, preferably on acid soils, at altitudes between 1,000 and 2,900 m.



Golden hawk’s-beard, Passo Gardena, Dolomites, Italy. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The picture below shows a sculpture in the Pashupatinath Temple, Kathmandu, Nepal, depicting the elephant-headed Hindu god Ganesh. The features of the image have become blurred due to a thick layer of orange sindur (red powder, mixed with mustard oil), applied by devout Hindus over the centuries.

Ganesh and other Hindu gods are presented in depth on the page Religion: Hinduism.



(Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




California sister (Adelpha californica) is a butterfly of the brushfoot family (Nymphalidae), distributed from Oregon and Nevada southwards through California to northern Baja California. It is easily identified by the orange or yellow patch near the wingtip.



California sister, observed at Kings Canyon River, Sierra Nevada, California. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Lotus is a huge genus of the pea family (Fabaceae), comprising at least 130 species. The popular name of these plants is bird’s-foot trefoil, the trefoil part referring to the tripartite leaves, whereas bird’s-foot refers to the often triple pods, which spread out from a common point, hereby resembling a bird’s foot.

Common bird’s-foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) is widely distributed in Temperate Eurasia, growing in drier habitats with low vegetation. In the Himalaya, it is found between 1,500 and 4,000 m altitude, from Pakistan east to central Nepal.



As flowers of common bird’s-foot trefoil age, they often become bright orange. These pictures are from the island of Fanø, Denmark. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Following genetic studies, a group of thrushes, encompassing about 21 species, which were traditionally placed in the genus Zoothera, were moved to the genus Geokichla in 2008. This genus was established in 1836 by German naturalist Salomon Müller (1804-1864), who explored parts of Dutch East Indies (today Indonesia) between 1826 and 1835.

The generic name is from the Greek geo (‘ground’) and kikhle (‘thrush’), referring to the almost exclusively ground-feeding habit of these birds.

Altogether 11 subspecies of the pretty orange-headed ground-thrush (Geokichla citrina) are distributed along the Himalaya, in eastern and Southern India, on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, in Indochina, southern and eastern China, and northern Borneo, and on Java and Bali. It is resident in the major part of this huge area, but some northern populations are migratory, spending the winter in north-eastern and southern India, Sri Lanka, Sumatra, and southern China.

Subspecies cyanota of southern India is very distinct, having a white face with two vertical black streaks below and behind the eye. It has been suggested that it forms a separate species, but intermediate forms occur where its range overlaps with that of nominate citrina.



This picture shows the distinct subspecies cyanota of orange-headed ground-thrush, encountered in Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary, Goa, India. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




The white milkwood (Tabernaemontana alba) is a large shrub or tree of the dogbane family (Apocynaceae), sometimes growing to about 15 m tall, with a trunk diameter up to 45 cm, but is usually smaller. It is distributed from northern Mexico southwards to Colombia, and also in southern Florida and Cuba, usually growing in humid shrubberies and forests, up to an elevation of about 600 m.

The fruit is large, green, splitting lengthwise and revealing two rows of seeds, covered in a bright orange, fleshy layer. It yields a large amount of white latex (hence its common name). This latex is sometimes used to adulterate chicle, and locally it is chewed as a substitute for chewing gum.



Open fruit of white milkwood, Tortuguero, Limón, Costa Rica. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Previously, it was assumed that slime mold (Mycetozoa) were a type of fungi. Today, however, most authorities regard them as unique organisms, being neither fungus, nor plant, nor animal. They are able to creep about in their young stage, which points towards animal, but later they become sedentary, pointing towards fungus or plant.



This orange slime mold covers a tree stump, Phele, Ghunsa Valley, eastern Nepal. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



This slime mold is growing on a fallen tree trunk, New Jersey, United States. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Slime mold, Propang Danda, Langtang National Park, central Nepal. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




As its name implies, the coast hibiscus (Hibiscus tiliaceus) is mainly coastal, but it may be found up to an altitude of 300 m. It is native to islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, coastal Australia, Indonesia, Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, southern China, and Taiwan, but has also become naturalized elsewhere in tropical parts of the world.

The specific name was given in allusion to its leaves, which resemble leaves of linden species (Tilia). A picture, depicting the gorgeous yellow flowers, is shown on the page In praise of the colour yellow.



When withering, the flowers of coast hibiscus change colour from yellow to orange. – Gili Air, Lombok, Indonesia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





Slaughtered goat, dyed with turmeric, Kathmandu, Nepal. Note the numerous flies. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Horned poppies (Glaucium) are named for their horn-shaped fruits. The flower colour of the red horned poppy (G. corniculatum) varies from dark red to dark orange. It is distributed from southern Europe eastwards to Central Asia.

Many more poppy species are described on the pages In praise of the colour red and In praise of the colour yellow.



Orange form of red horned poppy, Acipayam, western Turkey. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Glaucium leiocarpum, Bulanik, south of Çay, Turkey. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





Fungus on a tree, Jughandle State Park, California. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





The rocks in this river near Jinguashi, northern Taiwan, have been dyed orange from deposited minerals, washed out from former mining shafts. The place has been dubbed Huangjin Pubu (‘Golden Waterfall’). (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Costers (Acraea) is a large genus of butterflies in the family Nymphalidae, subfamily Heliconiinae, comprising about 150 species, most of which occur in warmer regions of Africa, with a few in the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and Australia.

In Ancient Greek mythology, Acraea was the daughter of the river-god Asterion. Together with her sisters Euboea and Prosymna, she acted as nurse to goddess Hera.

It is much debated, whether the tawny coster should be named Acraea terpsicore or A. violae, but today most authorities accept terpsicore as the correct name. Originally, this species was restricted to the Indian Subcontinent, but spread to Indochina during the 1990s and to Malaysia and Indonesia in the 2000s. During a tropical storm in 2017, many specimens were blown to the north-eastern coast of Australia, and since then it has spread to much of northern Australia.



Tawny coster, Siem Reap, Cambodia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




Screw palms (Pandanus) are a genus of monocots with 700-750 species. The name palm refers to their palm-like appearance, whereas the prefix screw alludes to its leaves, which are arranged in a swirly pattern, with old leaf scars encircling the stem. Another name of these plants is screwpine, alluding to the edible fruit, which resembles a pineapple.

The Chinese screw palm (Pandanus tectorius), formerly known as P. odoratissimus var. sinensis, is a small tree, to 10 m tall, distinguished by its numerous spiny leaves, which may grow to 1.8 m long. it is distributed along seashores, from eastern China and Taiwan southwards through Southeast Asia to northern Australia and many Pacific islands. It is sometimes planted as a living fence, and the leaves are used for weaving.



Fruit of Chinese screw palm, Longpan, Kenting National Park, southern Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Fruit of an unidentified species of screw palm, Senggigi, Lombok, Indonesia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





The new leaves of this tree in Hanoi, Vietnam, are pale orange. The tree has been adorned with tiny lamps and electric bulbs. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)





Eroded Nanya Sandstone with layers of oxidated iron, Nanya Peculiar Rocks, northern Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)




(Uploaded February 2020)


(Latest update April 2024)