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
Habitat: Pastures, prairies, crop fields, waste areas                   
Native status: Native 

General description: Erect plant reaching heights of 4 ft. Stems are smooth with swollen nodes, branched. Leaves are opposite, smooth, entire to finely serrated margins, ovate to lanceolate, up to 4 in long and 3 in wide. Lower leaves petiolate; upper leaves commonly sessile. Long internodes result in 'leggy' stems. Clusters of three to five pinkish flowers (< 1/2 in) form in upper leaf axils, surrounded by green bracts with five 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

The abundant branching of wild four o'clock results in bushy plants.

Opposite, heart-shaped leaves.  Leave margins are finely serrated.

Clusters of small, lavender flowers surrounded by green bracts.