Wild four-o' clock

Encyclopedia Article

Wild four-o’clock                   Mirabilis nyctaginea (Michx.) MacM.

Family:   Nyctagineaceae (Four-o’clock family)

Life cycle:  Perennial, reproducing by seed and taproot

Habitat:  Pastures, prairies, crop fields, waste areas

Native status: Native to North America

General description:  Erect plant reaching heights of 4 ft.  Stems are smooth with swollen nodes, branched.  Leaves are opposite, smooth, entire margins, ovate to lanceolate, up to 4 in long and 3 in wide.  Lower leaves petiolate; upper leaves commonly sessile.  Clusters of 3 to 5 pinkish flowers (< 1/2 in) form in upper leaf axils, surrounded by a green bract with 5 lobes.

Key ID traits:  Opposite leaves; smooth stems and leaves; green bract surrounding flower clusters.

Similar species:  Cultivated four o’clock species are from South America, whereas wild four ‘o clock is native.

Miscellaneous:   The flowers of wild four o’clock do not have petals, but the tubular structure is made up of the calyx.  The flowers generally open late in the day and close in the morning.

Weed ID Factsheet Index

Leaves are opposite, ovate in shape and have entire of finely serrated margins.

stems are smooth, branched with swollen nodes
Stems are smooth, branched with swollen nodes

lavender to pink flowers surrounded by green bracts
Lavender to pink flowers surrounded by green bracts