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Mirabilis jalapa


Mirabilis jalapa, the marvel of Peru<ref>Template:PLANTS</ref> or four o'clock flower, is the most commonly grown ornamental species of Mirabilis plant, and is available in a range of colours. Mirabilis in Latin means wonderful and Jalapa (or Xalapa) is the state capital of Veracruz in México. Mirabilis jalapa was cultivated by the Aztecs for medicinal and ornamental purposes.

The flowers usually open from late afternoon (around 4 o'clock) onwards, giving rise to one of its common names. Flowers then produce a strong, sweet-smelling fragrance throughout the night, then close for good in the morning. New flowers open the following day. It arrived in Europe in 1525. Today, it is common in many tropical regions and is also valued in Europe as a (not hardy) ornamental plant.


The name of Mirabilis jalapa given by Carl Von Linne in 1753 is formed from the scientific Latin Mirabilis meaning "admirable" by allusion to the remarkable colors of its flowers and the specific name jalapa that would refer to its origin in the Jalapa in Guatemala. But the epithet of jalapa could also refer to the city of Xalapa (Jalapa) in Mexico from which came a former purgative drug, named jalap, taken from the tubers of the tuberous jalap.<ref>Bruneton, J. Pharmacognosy - Phytochemistry, medicinal plants, 4 th edition, revised and enlarged. , Paris, Tec & Doc - International Medical Publishing,2009, 1288 p. ( Template:ISBN )</ref>

Linnaeus refers to all species of Jalapa described by Joseph Pitton de Tournefort who in 1694 wrote:
"The Jalap, or Belle de Nuit is a kind of plant whose flower is a funnel-shaped flared pipe with a crenellated pavilion ... Father Plumier assured me that the Jalap, which is brought to us with the root of America, was a true species of Belle de nuit. We have also received the seed, which has produced in the Jardin Royal de Paris a plant quite like the common Belle de nuit; but this seed is more wrinkled, and the leaves of the plant are less smooth."<ref>Uta Effmert , " Volatile composition, emission pattern, and localization of floral scent emission in Mirabilis jalapa (Nyctaginaceae) ", American journal of botany , vol. 92, n o 1,January 2005, p. 2-12 ( ISSN 0002-9122 ,</ref>


Fruit and bud.

A bushy plant, it is a perennial herbaceous plant that reaches stature heights of mostly 1, rarely up to 2 meters in height. It may also be grown as an annual, especially in the temperate zone. The single-seeded fruits are spherical, wrinkled and black upon maturity, having started out greenish-yellow.<ref>4 Oclock Flowers Template:Webarchive</ref>

A curious aspect of M. jalapa is that flowers with different colors grow simultaneously on the same plant. Additionally, an individual flower can be splashed with different colors. Flower patterns are referred to as sectors (whole sections of flower), flakes (stripes of varying length), and spots. A single flower can be plain yellow, red, magenta, pink, or white, or have a combination of sectors, flakes, and spots.<ref>http://www.gardenersnet.com/flower/fouroclock.htm</ref><ref>https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/flowers/four-oclocks/four-oclock-plants.htm</ref><ref>https://www.southernliving.com/plants/four-oclock</ref><ref>https://extension.usu.edu/rangeplants/forbsherbaceous/four-oclock</ref><ref>https://wimastergardener.org/article/four-oclocks-mirabilis-jalapa/</ref> Furthermore, different combinations of flowers and patterns can occur on different flowers of the same plant.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

Usually, the flowers are found in yellow, pink and white colors but you can find a different combination of flowers growing on the same single four o’clock plant. Another interesting point is a color-changing phenomenon. For example, in the yellow variety, as the plant matures, it can display flowers that gradually change to a dark pink color. Similarly, white flowers can change to light violet. Despite their appearance, the flowers are not formed from petals – rather they are a pigmented modification of the calyx. Similarly, the 'calyx' is an involucre of bracts.<ref>J. Hutchinson, 1969. Evolution and phylogeny of flowering plants. London.</ref>

The inflorescences contain three to seven unpopped flowers. Earning the name "four-clock flower", the fragrant flowers open in the late afternoon or in overcast weather and exhale a scent reminiscent of the tobacco flower, and attract moths for pollination. The anthesis lasts from 16 to 20 hours and thus remains visible part of the day. The flowers are pollinated by long-tongued moths of the family Sphingidae, such as the sphinx moths or hawk moths and other nocturnal pollinators attracted by the fragrance.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>


The plant does best in full sun. The plant will self-seed, often spreading rapidly if left unchecked in a garden. Some gardeners recommend that the seeds should be soaked before planting, but this is not totally necessary. In North America, the plant perennializes in warm, coastal environments, particularly in USDA zones 7–10. The fragrance of the flower is more intense and noticeable during the warm period of the day. The plant is easy to grow, as long as it is sunny or partially shaded. Under these conditions, it grows very quickly. It grows preferably in light soil, rich in humus and well draining, it is neutral side acidity (pH). Pot cultivation is always possible with a mixture of 80% soil and 20% garden soil and a very deep container with the tubers being put at a depth of 10 cm. It is usually sown from mid-February to May. The seeds germinate rapidly at a temperature of 18°C.<ref> Jorge M. Vivanco , " Antiviral Activity of Antiviroid and MAP-Containing Extracts from Mirabilis Jalapa Roots " Plant Disease , vol. 83, n o 12,1999, p. 1116-1121 ( ISSN 0191-2917)</ref>


Mirabilis jalapa hails from tropical South America, but has become naturalized throughout tropical and warm temperate regions. In cooler temperate regions, it will die back with the first frosts, regrowing in the following spring from the tuberous roots. Mirabilis jalapa is native to the dry tropical regions of Central and South America: Guatemala, Mexico, Chile and Peru.

It is currently naturalized in many countries in Asia, Africa, United States, Middle East and, Europe. In Réunion, Mirabilis jalapa was initially an ornamental species; however it become naturalized on the west coast, between 400 and 700 m altitude, and on the south coast between 0 and 700 m. It occurs in a ruderal debris area, and is relatively common in weedy sugarcane fields on the west and south coasts. Its high seed production and rapid growth allow it to cover up to 30% to 50% in cane plots.

Genetic studies

Around 1900, Carl Correns used Mirabilis as a model organism for his studies on cytoplasmic inheritance. He used the plant's variegated leaves to prove that certain factors outside the nucleus affected phenotype in a way not explained by Mendel's theories.<ref name=Miko>Miko, I. Non-nuclear genes and their inheritance. Nature Education 1(1), (2008)</ref> Correns proposed that leaf colour in Mirabilis was passed on via a uni-parental mode of inheritance.<ref name=Miko/>

Also, when red-flowered plants are crossed with white-flowered plants, pink-flowered offspring, not red, are produced. This is seen as an exception to Mendel's Law of Dominance because in this case, the red and white genes are of equal strength, so neither completely dominates the other. The phenomenon is known as incomplete dominance.


Eight betaxanthins (indicaxanthin, vulgaxanthin-I, miraxanthin-I, II, III, IV, V and VI) can be isolated from M. jalapa flowers.<ref>Pigments of centrospermae—V. : Betaxanthins from Mirabilis jalapa L. M. Piattelli, L. Minale and R.A. Nicolaus, Phytochemistry, 1965, Volume 4, Issue 6, Pages 817–823 (abstract)</ref>

Rotenoids (mirabijalone A, B, C and D, 9-O-methyl-4-hydroxyboeravinone B, boeravinone C and boeravinone F, and 1,2,3,4-tetrahydro-1-methylisoquinoline-7,8-diol) can be isolated from the roots.<ref>New Rotenoids from Roots of Mirabilis jalapa. Wang Yi-Fen, Chen Ji-Jun, Yang Yan, Zheng Yong-Tang, Tang Shao-Zong and Luo Shi-De, Helvetica Chimica Acta, August 2002, Volume 85, Issue 8, pages 2342–2348, Template:Doi</ref>

A fatty acid (8-hydroxyoctadeca-cis-11,14-dienoic acid) is found as a minor component in the seed oil.<ref>An 8-hydroxyoctadeca-cis-11,14-dienoic acid from Mirabilis jalapa seed oil. Mohammad Shamim Ahmad, Abdul Rauf, Jamal Mustafa and Mohammad Osman Sheikh, Phytochemistry, 1984, Volume 23, Issue 10, Pages 2247–2249 (abstract)</ref>

Analysis of the methanolic extract of the aerial parts yields β-sitosterol, stigmasterol, ursolic acid, oleanolic acid and brassicasterol.<ref>Constituents of Mirabilis jalapa. Siddiqui S., Siddiqui B.S., Adil Q. and Begum S., Fitoterapia, 1990, Volume 61, No. 5, page 471 (abstract)</ref>

Bioassay-guided fractionation of an organic extract of the cell mass from a manipulated plant cell culture of M. jalapa led to the isolation and subsequent identification of an isoflavone, a roteinoid and a dehydrorotenoid, Two of these compounds are responsible for the antimicrobial activity against Candida albicans.<ref>Three New Phenolic Compounds from a Manipulated Plant Cell Culture, Mirabilis jalapa. Shu-Wei Yang, Rosa Ubillas, James McAlpine, Angela Stafford, Dawn M. Ecker, M. Kelly Talbot and Bruce Rogers, J. Nat. Prod., 2001, volume 64, issue 3, pages 313–317, Template:Doi</ref>

Bioassay-guided fractionation of the methanolic extract of M. jalapa also led to the isolation of an active polyphenolic amide: N-trans-feruloyl 4′-O-methyldopamine. This compound shows moderate activity as an efflux pump inhibitor against multidrug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.<ref>N-Caffeoylphenalkylamide derivatives as bacterial efflux pump inhibitors. Serge Michalet, Gilbert Cartier, Bruno David, Anne-Marie Mariotte, Marie-Geneviève Dijoux-franca, Glenn W. Kaatz, Michael Stavri and Simon Gibbons, Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters, 15 March 2007, Volume 17, Issue 6, Pages 1755–1758 (abstract)</ref>


  • The flowers are used in food colouring. The leaves may be eaten cooked as well, but only as an emergency food.<ref name='pfaf'>Template:Cite web</ref>
  • An edible crimson dye is obtained from the flowers to color cakes and jellies.<ref name='pfaf'/>
  • In herbal medicine, parts of the plant may be used as a diuretic, purgative, and for vulnerary (wound healing) purposes. The root is believed to be an aphrodisiac as well as having diuretic and purgative properties. It is also used in the treatment of dropsy.
  • The leaves are used to reduce inflammation. A decoction of them (by mashing and boiling) is used to treat abscesses. Leaf juice may be used to treat wounds. The bulbous roots of the flower have a laxative effect.
  • Powdered, the seed of some varieties is used as a cosmetic and a dye.<ref name='pfaf'/> The seeds are considered poisonous.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>
  • The plant has a potential for the bioremediation of soils polluted with moderate concentrations of heavy metals such as cadmium.<ref>Growth responses and cadmium accumulation of Mirabilis jalapa L. under interaction between cadmium and phosphorus. Yu Z and Zhou Q, J Hazard Mater., 15 August 2009, volume 167, issues 1-3, pages 38-43, Template:Doi</ref>
  • In Brazil , the Indian Kayapo sniff the powder of dried flowers to cure headaches and use the root decoction to wash wounds and treat skin conditions such as leprosy. In Peru, juice extracted from flowers is used for herpes lesions and earache. The juice extracted from the root is used to treat earache, diarrhea, dysentery, syphilis and liver infections. In Mexico, decoctions of the whole plant are used for dysentery, infected wounds, and bee and scorpion stings.<ref>Bernard Boullard , medicinal plants of the world, beliefs and realities , De Boeck Secundair,2001 ( Template:ISBN )</ref>


Common names



Further reading