Four O’Clock Flower Family in Illinois

Learn more about the flowers locations, habitats, growing tendencies and the other states this flower may be habitable in, you may have some growing near you.

| May 2018

  • four oclock
    Mirabilis jalapa: this is the only species in Illinois that does not have a greatly enlarged, membranaceous involucre of bracts.
    Photo by GettyImages/apugach
  • flower
    Mirabilis jalapa: (a.) Habit (b.) Flower (c.) Fruit (d.) Seed
    Photo by Paul W. Nelson
  • mirabilis
    Mirabilis nyctaginea (a.) Habit (b.) Flower with involucre (c.) Flower (d.) Fruit with involucre (e.) Fruit (f.) Seed
    Photo by Paul W. Nelson
  • flowering plants
    “The Illustrated Flora of Illinois Flowering Plants: Pokeweeds, Four o’clocks, Carpetweeds, Cacti, Purslanes, Goosefoots, Pigweeds, and Pinks” by Robert H. Mohlenbrock, provides details of each flower family and its habitat in Illinois.
    Courtesy of Southern Illinois University Press

  • four oclock
  • flower
  • mirabilis
  • flowering plants

The Illustrated Flora of Illinois Flowering Plants: Pokeweeds, Four o’clocks, Carpetweeds, Cacti, Purslanes, Goosefoots, Pigweeds, and Pinks(Southern Illinois University Press, 2001), by Robert H. Mohlenbrock, provides details of each flower family and its habitat in Illinois. Learn more about the surroundings of each plant and flower. If you are from the Illinois area, you may find that some of these plants will do great in your growing area.

Nyctaginaceae —Four-o’clock Family

Annual, biennial, or perennial (in Illinois) herbs, shrubs, vines, or trees; leaves usually opposite, simple, without stipules; flowers perfect (in Illinois) or unisexual, variously arranged, subtended by bracts or an involucre of bracts; sepals united, forming a campanulate or funnelform calyx persistent in fruit, often petaloid, 3- to 5-toothed or -lobed; petals absent; stamens 1–5; ovary inferior (in Illinois) or supe- rior, 1-locular; style 1; fruit a 1-seeded utricle enclosed by the calyx tube.

There are about thirty genera and three hundred species in this family. Most of them are in the American tropics. Several genera have ornamental value, including Myrabilis, the four-o’clock, and Bougainvillea, a tropical woody vine or shrub.

1. Mirabilis L.—Four-o’clock

There is often an involucre of bracts that is calyxlike in appearance and that sub- tends or encloses one or more flowers. Those plants that have the greatly enlarged involucre are sometimes segregated into the genus Oxybaphus. The fruit, which in- cludes the 1-seeded utricle enclosed by the calyx tube, is referred to as the anthocarp.



All of our species except M. jalapa were originally described in the genus Allionia, but that genus has winged anthocarps.

Key to the Species of Mirabilis in Illinois

1. Anthocarp (fruit) smooth or 5-angled; involucre not papery or membranaceous, scarcely or not enlarged in fruit…1. M. jalapa






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