ROYGBIV: Orange

7 Apr

Depending on who you ask, the color orange brings to mind many things: amusement, danger, encouragement, energy, enjoyment, enthusiasm, extroversion, fascination, fire, happiness, heat, sunshine, and warmth.

It is one of my favorite colors, because it is so cheery (and because it goes so well with blue, its complementary color). I particularly like that it is associated with joy and creativity, and I love this description: “Orange oozes with delight.”

Interestingly, people did not have a good way to describe the color at first, sometimes calling it (in English) “yellow-red” or “saffron.” It wasn’t until oranges made their way around the world from their native Southeast Himalayan foothills that the color began to be associated with the ripe fruit. The first recorded use of orange as a color name in English was in 1512.

This week’s color, orange, appears on the six stamens of an Asiatic Lily ‘Tiny Sensation.’ The stamens are the male reproductive organs of flowers, consisting of anthers coated in pollen resting atop slim filaments. The female part of the flower, the pistil, can be seen rising blurrily in the back. Though not visible in the photo, the top part (the stigma) has three lobes and is sticky, to better catch the pollen.

Here is a better view of the pistil and its three-lobed stigma, surrounded by the six stamens. This photo is from a different lily, but luckily the pollen here is also orange, fitting in with this week’s theme.

Pollination occurs when bees, butterflies, and other pollinators carry the pollen from the lily’s anthers to the female parts of other lilies. Successful sexual reproduction leads to seeds that ripen in pods and are dispersed when the pods start to open in the fall. Unfortunately, I do not have any good photos of lily seed pods (though will now be on the lookout this fall), but did stumble upon iris seeds one autumn, as described here.

And of course, as lilies come from bulbs, another great way to get more lilies is via bulb division.

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