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Mirabilis jalapa L.

Family Name: Nyctaginaceae
Synonyms: Mirabilis jalapa f. eujalapa Heimerl, Nyctago jalapae (L.) DC., Nyctago versicolor Salisb.
Common Name: Marvel of Peru, Four-o-clock, False Jalap, Bunga Pukul Empat, 四时花, 紫茉莉

Mirabilis jalapa or Marvel of Peru is a tuberous herb that can grow to 1 m tall. It has oblong to triangular foliage and trumpet-shaped flowers. The lemon-scented flowers are short lived, they bloom in the late afternoon and closes by the next morning. Marvel of Peru have also been cultivated to produce fragrant attractive flowers that comes in colours of yellow, red, white or variegated. The flowers are also harvested to produce an edible dye used to colour cakes and jellies.

Full Sun Semi Shade Moderate Water Bird-Attracting Plant Butterfly-Attracting Plant Fragrant Plant Ornamental Flowers Herbaceous Plant


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names
Species Summary

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Herbaceous Plant
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Maximum Height 1 m


Native Distribution Mexico to Central America
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Exotic

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a tuberous herb that is occasionally grown as an annual, reaching up to 1 m in height.
Foliage Its foliage are arranged oppositely, oblong to triangular in shape. They measure between 2 - 15 by 1 - 9 cm.
Flowers Its flowers are trumpet-shaped, held in clusters of 3 -7. The flowers measure up to 5 cm long, cultivated to produce multiple colours; white, yellow, red or variegated. The lemon scented flowers last for a day, it opens in the late afternoon, and stay open up till the next morning giving it the name, Four-O-Clock.
Fruits Its fruits are dry, almost round, ribbed and wrinkled. The dark brown to black fruits are 7 - 9 mm wide.
Habitat It has become naturalized in cultivation, throughout tropical and warm temperate regions, waste ground and around habitation; to altitude of 200 - 2150 m.
Cultivation Generally, Mirabilis jalapa is easy to grow, thrives easily with fertile, well-drained soil under full sun conditions (6 - 8 hours of sunlight).
Ethnobotanical Uses Medicinal ( The roots are used in Chinese folk medicine as a purgative. The juice is extracted from the leaves and applied to wounds while a decoction is applied to abscesses. The leaves and seeds are used as a purgative.)
[Others]: The flowers are used for making edible dyes for cakes and jellies.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers, Fragrant (Flowers)
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Fertile Loamy Soils, Moist Soils, Well-Drained Soils
Landscape Uses Small Gardens, Container Planting, Flowerbed / Border
Usage Hazard - Cons Toxic Upon Ingestion
Usage Hazard - Cons Remarks The seeds are extremely poisonous.

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Bird Attracting (Flowers), Butterfly Food Plant

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Semi-Shade, Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Fast
Propagation Method Seed, Storage Organ (Tuberous Root), Stem Cutting


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Opposite
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Acuminate, Acute
Foliar Base Cordate, Truncate / Square

Non - Foliar and Storage

Stem Type & Modification Herbaceous
Root Type Underground (Tap Root)
Specialised Storage Organ(s) Underground (Root Tuber)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Bisexual Flowers
Flower & Plant Sexuality 2 Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Purple, Red, White, Yellow / Golden
Flower Texture(s) Smooth
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Terminal
Flower Symmetry Radial
Individual Flower Shape Trumpet-shaped
Inflorescence Type Cyme
Flower Lifespan on Plant 1 Night
Flowering Habit Polycarpic

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Black, Brown
Mature Fruit Texture(s) Rough, Wrinkled
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type 1 Indehiscent Dry Fruit
Fruit Type 2 Achene
Mature Seed Colour(s) Black
Seed Quantity Per Fruit Few (1-5)


References Missouri Botanical Garden (continuously updated), Mirabilis jalapa - Plant Finder. Accessed 11 January 2022.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (continuously updated). Plants of the World Online | Kew Science. Accessed 7 January 2022.

Stemmerik, J.F. (1960). Nyctaginaceae. Flora of Malesiana - Series 1, Spermatophyta, 6(1), 450 - 468. 

Westra, L.Y.Th. & Stoffers, A.L. (1980). Ncytaginaceae. Floral of Netherlands Antilles, 2(2), 167 - 181.

Image Repository



Master ID 933
Species ID 2227
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 17 January 2022.