Friday, July 06, 2007

Friday Flowers: In Praise of Orange

Perdita by A.F. Sandys (1875)

... Part of the problem with redheads is that there aren't enough of them.
They make up just two percent of the population.
So they're pretty extraordinary...
Grant McCracken

I am still looking for a good wildflower guide that is easy for me, with no botanical background to use. This week I took out A Field Guide to Wildflowers by Roger Tory Peterson and Margaret McKenny from the library and was able to identify many of the pictures I have taken in the past couple of months. The book is arranged by colour, form and detail and is very logically presented. It features over 1300 flowers. Under the colour orange is written...

Flowers that are truly orange are relatively few and are covered almost in
entirety in the two following colour plates (pages).

There are innumerable variations of yellow and white wildflowers. Blues are less common, but more abundant than orange. This is the time of year to look for orange beauty.

These orange Day Lilies are blooming in fields and ditches and gardens all over our region. I always thought they were Tiger Lilies, but these are not spotted. Day Lilies have naturalized after escaping from cultivation.

Turk's-Cap Lilies are the tallest lilies and are native to the area. These were blooming at my eye level and plants can grow up to six feet tall. They are named for the distinctive turban shape of the flowers.

This beautiful native flower is the Butterfly Weed, also known as Indian Paintbrush or Orange Milkweed. Butterflies are attracted by the bright colour and plentiful pollen.

Most of the other orange flowers in the guidebook are found in other regions of Northeastern America, such as Pine barrens, the Appalachians and other areas south of us. Have you noticed any other orange wildflowers? Perhaps they are as rare as a true redhead but are an unmistakable and brilliant treasure when found.

Dedicated to KGMom and true redheads everywhere!


  1. Anonymous9:05 am GMT-4

    Oh I WISH I had red hair. My brother and sister both do and I think it is so unfair that I didn't get any.

    There's a Flickr group called "Orange". You should post your photos to that group!

  2. I've tagged you for the Eight Random Facts meme (unless you'd rather not, that's ok, too)

  3. Thanks for the lily info. I grew up calling all orange lilies "ditch lilies" and I never knew there were more than one variety growing in the wild! I love that indian paintbrush. It's thick in unmowed fields in northern Minnesota right now.

  4. Hi Ruth - I didn't realize that Butterfly Weed was also called Indian Paintbrush and Orange Milkweed. Very interesting.

  5. Redheads are special, indeed, and I've always admired them, especially the freckles that usually adorn redheads.

    The Turk's-Cap Lilies are so pretty! I don't recall seeing them in Maryland or south of her.

    Orange daylilies are one of my favorite summer flowers. Other than that, I have some orange zenias.

  6. I've always like orange flowers-I have the orange variety of Marigolds.-Some of the names of these are interesting-My mother and brother-in-law both have the nickname red.-They both have coppery orange hair.

  7. My office mate is a true redhead. She said she hated her hair when she was younger and dyed it brown. Now she's back to the natural color and it's so pretty with the summer sun highlights in it. I've only heard one person at work call her "Red" on a regular basis.
    I'll be sure and tell her on Monday how 'extraordinary' she is!

  8. Oh, I am blushing. When I first started reading, I was thinking--woo hooo for redheads.
    Then I get to the end and see "dedicated to kgmom and true redheads everywhere" and I start kicking the dirt with my toe.
    Gosh, shucks, umm--thanks.
    I am partial to redheads also--I married one, my children are both redheads, as are my brother & sister!
    2% of the population? Well, we sure overdid our part.

  9. Redheaded with freckles runs in my family - I got the blonde hair though.

    Those orange daylilies are called *farmer's lilies* also.

    I've always got my eyes out for Turk's Cap lilies - they're said to be a favorite of hummingbirds - but I guess they're not too common here.

  10. Anonymous7:59 am GMT-4

    I love lilies. The day lilies are blooming outside the door -caught a deer in the act of nipping buds the other day. Haven't seen turk's caps in many years, but we used to have them on our farm when I was a kid. Thanks for the lovely photos.

  11. How fun! A field book organized by color! Orange always makes me think of marigolds and daylilies as well.

  12. I don't think I've ever encountered a Turk's Cap Lily in the wild. Wonderful. Such pretty pictures. Isn't it true that the buds of Day Lilies are edible?

    My Grandmother had red hair. She had 18 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren. Not a red hair amongst them. Now that I'm coloring my own and am inadvertently going reddish, my own mother recently remarked that grandma would be pleased to finally have a red-haired grandchild:0)

  13. Jennifer- Life isn't fair. You likely got the brains.;-)

    Nina- I noticed the tag and I have nearly wrung my brain out trying to think of even 4 things about me that aren't totally boring! After this busy weekend, I will give it a try.

    Lynne- Ditch lilies are a good description. We just came back from Lake Huron and the Indian Paintbrush was plentiful and beautiful.

    MaryC-...the things i learn in my trusty guide books. It had a few other names as well.

    Mary- Anne of Green Gables was one of my favourite books, and Anne's biggest distress in life was her red hair. Freckles were also unfashionable. But now red is in...

    Larry- I remember that you liked marigolds. They are cheerful orange flowers too. So the red haired genes passed you by.

    RuthieJ- We seldom like the way we are. I can hardly imagine dyeing red hair brown. Do tell her she is special.

    KGMom- I love that picture of little red-headed Donna with your mother that is in you post today. When you think of all the black haired races in the world, families with multiple red heads are needed to keep the average at 2%.

    Laura- I think people still admire blondes most of all. I just found the Turk's-cap lilies in one area of a local trail. I hiked along way today along Lake Huron and saw none.

    LauraO- Thanks- I didn't know the deer would eat the lilies, but then they did eat the spring tulips near Niagara Falls this year.

    Jayne- I need a guide book organized by colour, not by petal and leaf types. Basic is best for me. There are so many beautiful day lilies available now. I have quite a variety in my garden.

    Cathy- LauraO said the deer ate her lilies, so I guess they are not toxic. You likely have a complexion that suits reddish hair. I think it is flattering to many skin tones if the colour used isn't too harsh (like the burgundy tone that was popular a few years ago!)

  14. I'm an unnatural's unfair that real red-heads are so few and far between.
    I call all orange lilies "tiger-lilies". Oops.
    I want some butterfly weed. Better get myself to the nursery!

  15. Hi Ruth,

    My grandson has bright red hair, and my sister's grandson has dark red auburn hair. But as far as we know, there are no other redheads on either side of our lines. Lovely blog...I love all orange flowers, and the milkweed is gorgeous.
    I have the National Audobon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers. In the front, the wildflowers are illustrated separately in color groups. After reading your post, I went and checked. There are only 16 orange wildflowers illustrated.

  16. Susan- You must go get some native butterfly weed for that big yard of yours. You didn't have to confess that you are an unnatural redhead ;-)

    Dorothy- Thanks for the comments. I will have to check out the Audubon wildflower book before I decide which to purchase. I think auburn hair is beautiful.

  17. Anonymous9:47 am GMT-4

    Just love those Turk's Cap's! Wow, so many wonderful orange colored flowers! Bravo!

  18. That painting is ravishing. Thanks for this lovely tribute to my favorite color of all--orange. We saw a red fox in the meadow yesterday, and I get to see my red fox Phoebe every day. I have gobs of lilies and butterfly weed in my garden and meadows. Your blog is lovely.

  19. Monarch- I was lucky to find the Turk's-cap lilies. There were just a few and they were done quickly.

    Julie- Thanks for visiting and commenting. You are the first to comment on the painting. I thought she was gorgeous too. I love fall oranges, but summer oranges are very full of life. Your Phoebe is still a "spring orange".

  20. I am a natural redhead. Not strawberry blonde, not auburn, but a true redhead. I have brown eyes, and the older I get the less freckels I have. I am the only one in my family (No one's quite sure where the gene came from, but I might be the first since my family came from Scotland.) My brother had red hair, but it changed to blonde when he was two.

    Though there are many perks to having red hair, it isn't all wonderful. Strangers stop and stare. You can't ever blend into a crowd or be forgotten. When you hide your hair in a baseball cap, members of your own family sometimes don't recognize you! I wouldn't trade it for another color, although when I was little I wished it was any color but red.


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