Mirabilis jalapa, the marvel of Peru 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 is the capital of Veracruz. Mirabilis jalapa was cultivated by the Aztecs for medicinal and ornamental purposes. It is also said to have been exported from the Peruvian Andes in 1540 A.D.

Mirabilis jalapa

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  • A curious aspect of M. jalapa is that flowers with different colours grow simultaneously on the same plant.Different color variation in the flower and different color flowers in same plant.Variegated flower on a four o'clock plant.Naturally occurring color variation on four o'clock flowers.Additionally, an individual flower can be splashed with different colours. 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, pink or white, or have a combination of sectors, flakes and spots. Furthermore, different combinations of flowers and patterns can occur on different flowers of the same plant. Another interesting point is a colour-changing phenomenon. For example, in the yellow variety, as the plant matures, it can display flowers that gradually change to a dark pink colour. Similarly white flowers can change to light violet. A four o'clock plant in full bloom.The flowers usually open from late afternoon (around 4'o clock) onwards, hence the first 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.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.The flowers are pollinated by long-tongued moths of the Sphingidae family, such as the sphinx moths or hawk moths and other nocturnal pollinators attracted by the fragrance.