Yellow is a bright, warm color that is associated with sunshine, happiness, optimism, and energy. In nature, yellow is the color of sunflowers, daffodils, dandelions, lemons, bananas, and bees. It signifies joy, happiness, intellect, and energy.
Many flowering plants and trees have yellow flowers, fruits, or foliage. Popular yellow flowering plants include daffodils, sunflowers, tulips, orchids, honeysuckles, and black-eyed Susans. Trees with yellow flowers include acacias, goldenrain trees, and some magnolias and tulip trees.
Fruits that are typically yellow when ripe include lemons, bananas, pears, peachs, apricots, mangos, pineapples, and papayas. Yellow vegetables include summer squash, peppers, corn, and garlic.
|Flowers||Sunflowers, daffodils, dandelions, tulips, daisies|
|Fruits||Lemons, bananas, mangos, pineapples|
|Vegetables||Corn, yellow squash, peppers|
|Trees||Acacias, goldenrain trees, yellow poplars|
Yellow or golden foliage is also common in plants and trees. This includes goldenrod, forsythia, black-eyed Susans, marigolds, daylilies, yarrow, figs, alder trees, gingko trees, cottonwoods, and larches. The yellow pigments in plants include carotenoids, flavonoids, anthocyanins, and betalains.
Many animals have yellow coloring or markings. This includes mammals like lions, tigers, leopards, giraffes, deer, jackrabbits, and lemurs. Reptiles with yellow include snakes like boa constrictors and pythons, chameleons, geckos, and some turtles.
|Mammals||Lions, tigers, giraffes, deer, jackrabbits|
|Birds||Canaries, goldfinches, orioles, meadowlarks|
|Reptiles||Pythons, chameleons, geckos|
|Insects||Bees, butterflies, lightning bugs|
|Fish||Yellow tang, yellowtail damselfish|
Many species of birds have yellow feathers like canaries, goldfinches, orioles, meadowlarks, and parakeets. Insects associated with yellow include bees, butterflies, lightning bugs, and some wasps and spiders. Fish with yellow coloration include yellow tang, yellowtail damselfish, yellow perch, and yellowfin tuna.
The yellow pigments in animals include pteridines, purines, carotenoids, and conjugated double bonds. Yellow provides camouflage in dry grasslands for predators. It also attracts pollinators like bees and butterflies to flowers.
In geology, yellow minerals and gemstones are common. Sulfur is a bright yellow mineral found near volcanic regions and hot springs. Pyrite, also known as fool’s gold, is a pale brass-yellow mineral. Amber is fossilized tree resin that ranges from yellow to orange-brown.
|Sulfur||Volcanic areas, hot springs|
|Amber||Fossilized tree resin|
|Citrine||Quartz crystal, gemstone|
Citrine is a yellow variety of quartz crystal that is used as a gemstone. Other yellow gemstones include yellow diamonds, topaz, and yellow sapphire. The yellow color in many minerals is due to iron impurities.
Soil color can range from yellow to brown based on mineral composition. Yellow soils are common in tropical and subtropical regions. They contain hydrated iron oxides that result in a yellowish or reddish hue.
Weather and Sky
In weather and the sky, yellow is associated with sunshine and lightning. Sunshine appears yellow because the sun’s light contains all colors of the rainbow, but the dominant wavelength we see is in the yellow-green region.
Lightning produces a yellow flash during electrical storms. This is caused by the heating of air around the discharge of electricity. Pollutants in the air can also cause the sky or sun to appear more yellow, especially during hazy conditions.
|Yellow in Weather||Cause|
|Sunshine||Dominant wavelengths in yellow-green region|
|Lightning||Heated air around electrical discharge|
|Hazy skies||Pollutants scattering blue light|
Other yellow sky phenomena include rainbows, which contain all colors, and noctilucent clouds that can have a yellowish hue high in the atmosphere at dusk. Fall foliage turning yellow signals the changing of the seasons.
In human culture, yellow has both positive and negative associations. It is often used to represent sunshine, joy, and happiness. However, it can also symbolize cowardice, jealousy, and deceit in some contexts.
|Positive||Sunshine, joy, happiness, optimism|
|Negative||Cowardice, jealousy, deceit|
|Neutral||Intellect, energy, warning|
The positive meanings derive from its association with the sun, flowers, and gold. The negative meanings arose over time in cultural references. More neutral meanings include intellect, energy, and serving as a warning signal.
In Western cultures, yellow is sometimes associated with discrimination against East Asians. While in China, yellow was historically the color of royalty and power. Yellow ribbons are used to welcome home loved ones and to represent support for military troops.
In summary, yellow is a prominent color in nature that is linked to sunshine, happiness, and energy. It is commonly found in flowering plants, fruits, animals, minerals, and the sky and sun. Yellow has both positive and negative cultural symbolism and meanings. Understanding the broad associations of the color yellow in the natural world and human society provides greater insight into its importance.