Index- plants in this Family
Nyctaginaceae / Four o'clock
White Four o'clock (Mirabilis albida)
White Four o'clock is also known as Mountain Four o'clock and Pale Umbrella-Wort.

Plant Type: This is a herbaceous plant, it is a perennial which can reach 150cm in height (60inches).
Leaves: The leaf arrangement is opposite. Leaves can reach 7cm in length (2.75inches). Leaves can be as wide as 1.5 cm (0.6inches). Each leaf is entire, lance shaped with a very short petiole.
Flowers: The flowers have 5 Regular Parts and are up to 2cm wide (0.75 inches). They are pink or lavender. Blooms first appear in mid spring and continue into late summer. Flowers open at night and wilt the following day.
Fruit: Narrow, brown, elliptic achenes to 5mm (0.2") long.
Habitat: Dry Fields, borders.
Range: Centered around Missouri. Found in very scattered locations from California to South Carolina to Minnesota and beyond.

      Color Photo     More Info      Classification

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Few plants can boast a wider and sparser distribution than this one. Its range seems extensive, however, it may be known in only one or two counties in a particular state and not be found again for hundreds of kilometers only to show up in a small area of a neighboring state. This is true especially in our area. This plant is considered 'Threatened' in Tennessee. Rather showy when several flowers are open, a succession of flowers soon wilts to be replaced by the fruit.

Lore: The Cherokee poured milk over the leaves of the closely related Heartleaf Four o'clock (Mirabilis nyctaginea) to make a fly poison.(Hamel/Chiltoskey)

Medical Uses: The closely related and more plentiful Heartleaf Four o'clock (Mirabilis nyctaginea) has been used by Native Americans in the form of a root tea to treat burns, fevers and to expel intestinal parasites.(Foster & Duke) The Cherokee crushed the root for a poultice to use on boils.(Hamel/Chiltoskey)
Warning: Considered toxic.

Similar Species: Heartleaf Four o'clock (Mirabilis nyctaginea) has heart shaped leaves on longer petioles.
The Four o'clock of flower gardens is Marvel of Peru (Mirabilis jalapa). It sometimes escapes cultivation and establishes itself.

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Cedars of Lebanon State Park, September, 21, 2000

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More Info:  
The Search below may provide more information about this species. Some of URLs may have been used as a source for this page not otherwise cited. Most of the information not cited comes from multiple sources that can be found in the Books page. The USDA plant links are provided by: USDA, NRCS 1999. The PLANTS database ( National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA. You can check species names at ITIS Advanced Search to see if they meet the current ITIS taxonomic criteria.

By: Newcomb, Lawrence and Illustrated by Morrison, Gordon. 1977, Little, Brown and Company, ISBN:0-316-60442-9

One of the best general guides to wildflowers of the North Eastern and North Central United States. Newcomb's key is an excellent, simple method for identifying plants. Newcomb has drawings for almost every plant mentioned that are excellent aids to identifying the species. Though only the more common plants are covered this is often the first book I pick up when trying to identify a wildflower.

Wildflo wers of Tennessee the Ohio Valley and the Southern Appalachians
By: Dennis Horn and Tavia Cathcart and Thomas E. Hemmerly and David Duhl. , ISBN:1551054280

This is perhaps the best of many field guides covering this region. Featuring 446 excellent color photographs (located with the text) and mentioning as similar to those illustrated are another 800 or so species for a total coverage of over 1,200 species. The start of each family section includes line drawings of some of the species showing important features. The text includes the usual description, bloom season, range, habitat and additionally includes information such as medical uses and lore and how the species was named. This is the official field guide of the Tennessee Native Plant Society.

Angiosperms / Flowering Plants
Dicots / Two Seed Leaves
Four o'clock



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