Botanical Name : Mirabilis jalapa
Species: M. jalapa
Common Names:Four o’clock flower or Marvel of Peru. In Pakistan it is called “Gul Abas” (Urdu:). In Sri Lanka it is called “Hendirikka”. In Southern India it is called “Anthi Mandhaarai” (Tamil:). In Andhra Pradesh it is called “Chandrakantha”(Telugu:). In Kerala it is called ‘Naalumani poovu’ (Malayalam: . In Maharashtra it is called “Gulabakshi” (Marathi:. In Assamese it is called ‘Godhuli Gopal’, ‘godhuli’ meaning evening. In Bengali it is called “sandhyamaloti” .In Maithili it is called “sanjhaa phool” as it blooms in evening . In Oriya it is called ‘Rangani’. In China it is called the “shower flower”
Habitat : M. jalapa hails from tropical South America, but has become naturalised 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. The plant does best in full sun.
Mirabilis jalapa is a perennial plant grows to approximately 0.9 m in height. The single-seeded fruits are spherical, wrinkled and black upon maturity , having started out greenish-yellow. 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 9–10.
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. It is in flower from Jul to October, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.
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. Correns proposed that leaf color in Mirabilis was passed on via a uniparental mode of inheritance.
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 none completely dominates the other. The phenomenon is known as incomplete dominance.
Succeeds in almost any ordinary garden soil. Prefers a fertile well-drained soil in full sun or part day shade. This species is not very hardy in Britain. The top growth is cut back by frost but the tuber survives the winter outdoors if the temperature does not fall much below -5°c, a good mulch would be beneficial. Tubers can be lifted and stored over winter in a cool frost free place in the same way that dahlia tubers are stored. The marvel of Peru is usually grown as a half-hardy annual in temperate zones, it flowers freely in its first year. Plants also self-sow freely in warmer areas (these seedlings can be easily transplanted) and they can become a weed in such situations due to their deep rooting habit. This species was cultivated as a medicinal plant by the Aztecs prior to the Spanish conqust. The flowers are sweetly scented and do not open until the afternoon. The young growth is particularly susceptible to aphis infestation. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.
Seed – sow spring in a greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in early summer, after the last expected frosts. The seed remains viable for several years. Division in spring as the plant comes into growth
Tender young leaves – cooked as a vegetable. An emergency food, only eaten when all else fails. An edible crimson dye is obtained from the flowers. It is used for colouring cakes and jellies. The seed is crushed and used as a pepper substitute
Diuretic; Purgative; Vulnerary.
The root is aphrodisiac, diuretic and purgative. It is used in the treatment of dropsy. A paste of the root is applied as a poultice to treat scabies and muscular swellings. The juice of the root is used in the treatment of diarrhoea, indigestion and fevers. The powdered root, mixed with corn flour (Zea mays) is baked and used in the treatment of menstrual disorders. The leaves are diuretic. They are used to reduce inflammation. A decoction of them is used to treat abscesses. The leaf juice is used to treat wounds
The flowers are used in food colouring. The leaves may be eaten cooked as well, but only as an emergency food.
An edible crimson dye is obtained from the flowers to colour cakes and jellies.
The leaves are used to reduce inflammation. A decoction of them (mashing and boiling) is used to treat abscesses. Leaf juice may be used to treat wounds.
Powdered, the seed of some varieities is used as a cosmetic and a dye.
Known Hazards : The seeds and the rots are reported to cause digestive disturbances .The seeds are considered poisonous
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.