** 2016 Appeal ** In order to extend our coverage of climate zones, we’ve identified around 700 plants to add to our database. To do this properly and at the same time improve the usability of our website we need extra funds in addition to our regular level of income. more >>

   Bookmark and Share
    By donating to PFAF, you can help support and expand our activities
    Plant Suppliers: Click here for a List
Mirabilis jalapa - L.                
Common Name Marvel Of Peru, Miracle Flower of Peru, Four O'Clock
Family Nyctaginaceae
USDA hardiness 7-10
Known Hazards The seeds and the rots are reported to cause digestive disturbances[274].
Habitats Not known
Range S. America - Peru. Naturalized in France and possibly other places in Europe.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Frost Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

Bloom Color: Pink, Red, White, Yellow. Main Bloom Time: Early fall, Late summer, Mid summer. Form: Upright or erect.

Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of flower
Mirabilis jalapa is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 8 and is frost tender. It is in flower from Jul to October, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Mirabilis jalapa Marvel Of Peru, Miracle Flower of Peru, Four O

Mirabilis jalapa Marvel Of Peru, Miracle Flower of Peru, Four O
 Cultivated Beds;
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Leaves.
Edible Uses: Colouring;  Condiment.

Tender young leaves - cooked as a vegetable[105, 183, 272]. An emergency food, only eaten when all else fails[177]. An edible crimson dye is obtained from the flowers[46, 61, 105, 177]. It is used for colouring cakes and jellies[183]. The seed is crushed and used as a pepper substitute[105, 177, 183].
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Diuretic;  Purgative;  Vulnerary.

The root is aphrodisiac, diuretic and purgative. It is used in the treatment of dropsy[46, 61, 154, 218, 240]. A paste of the root is applied as a poultice to treat scabies and muscular swellings[272]. The juice of the root is used in the treatment of diarrhoea, indigestion and fevers[272]. The powdered root, mixed with corn flour (Zea mays) is baked and used in the treatment of menstrual disorders[272]. The leaves are diuretic[272]. They are used to reduce inflammation[240]. A decoction of them is used to treat abscesses[218]. The leaf juice is used to treat wounds[218].
Other Uses
Cosmetic;  Dye.

The powdered seed is used as a cosmetic[46, 61].
Cultivation details                                         
Landscape Uses:Border, Container, Specimen. Succeeds in almost any ordinary garden soil[1]. Prefers a fertile well-drained soil in full sun or part day shade[200]. This species is not very hardy in Britain. The top growth is cut back by frost but the tuber survives the winter outdoors if the temperature does not fall much below -5°c, a good mulch would be beneficial[200]. Tubers can be lifted and stored over winter in a cool frost free place in the same way that dahlia tubers are stored[1, 200]. The marvel of Peru is usually grown as a half-hardy annual in temperate zones, it flowers freely in its first year[200]. Plants also self-sow freely in warmer areas (these seedlings can be easily transplanted) and they can become a weed in such situations due to their deep rooting habit[200]. This species was cultivated as a medicinal plant by the Aztecs prior to the Spanish conqust[274]. The flowers are sweetly scented and do not open until the afternoon[233]. The young growth is particularly susceptible to aphis infestation[200]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[233]. Special Features:Attracts birds, Not North American native, Naturalizing, Fragrant flowers.
Seed - sow spring in a greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in early summer, after the last expected frosts. The seed remains viable for several years[196]. Division in spring as the plant comes into growth[200].
Related Plants                                         
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Mirabilis expansaMauka30
Mirabilis multifloraFour O'clock Plant, Colorado four o'clock12
Mirabilis nyctagineaWild Four O'clock Plant, Heartleaf four o'clock02
Viola mirabiliswonder violet31
Plant Suppliers: Click here for a List

      You can download this page as a PDF

Expert comment                                         
Botanical References                                         
Links / References                                         

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[46]Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants.
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
[61]Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
[105]Tanaka. T. Tanaka's Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World.
The most comprehensive guide to edible plants I've come across. Only the briefest entry for each species, though, and some of the entries are more than a little dubious. Not for the casual reader.
[154]Ewart. A. J. Flora of Victoria.
A flora of eastern Australia, it is rather short on information that is useful to the plant project.
[177]Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption.
An excellent book for the dedicated. A comprehensive listing of latin names with a brief list of edible parts.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
[196]Popenoe. H. et al Lost Crops of the Incas
An excellent book. Very readable, with lots of information and good pictures of some lesser known food plants of S. America.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[218]Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
[233]Thomas. G. S. Perennial Garden Plants
A concise guide to a wide range of perennials. Lots of cultivation guides, very little on plant uses.
[240]Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C. Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.
[272]Manandhar. N. P. Plants and People of Nepal
Excellent book, covering over 1,500 species of useful plants from Nepal together with information on the geography and peoples of Nepal. Good descriptions of the plants with terse notes on their uses.
[274]Diggs, Jnr. G.M.; Lipscomb. B. L. & O'Kennon. R. J Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas
An excellent flora, which is also available on-line.

Readers comment                                         
Elizabeth H.
John Mon Sep 4 2006
I have grown these for the first time this year just to the north of Bristol - from a 10cent pack of seed I bought in the US 3 years ago. It is a plant I have never seen before and attracts quite a lot of interest from people who visit my 1/4 acre. I only have three colours and sadly not any of the variagated ones others describe. I am hoping to transpant them all to just behind a low wall at the front of my propertey early next spring. Thanks for the good information on your site. John.
Elizabeth H.
elle Sat May 5 2007
I grew it last year in London, UK from seed donated by a friend. I am not convinced that it requires moist soil as it seemed happy enough during a heatwave when the clay soil was baked hard and I was doing very little supplementary watering for my borders. I only had one colour so far. I saved seed, but I have found that self-sown volunteer seedlings have sprung up where it was planted.
Elizabeth H.
K M Harriss Sun Apr 22 2007
You do not say how to grow Mirabilis jalapa from a tuber - only from seed. I would like to know how deep to plant these tubers and when and how long it will take before any shoots appear. Thank you.
Elizabeth H.
ghulam abbas mangi Mon Sep 17 2007
so nice plant . iam doing reserch about marvel of peru here in pakistan . still iam student of pharm D second year, and trying to study more about mira,jalapa. plz it is requested to ur houner that kindly send me information about this plant . my e-mail : abbas_mangi1@yahoo.co.uk thanks ghulam abbas mangi
Elizabeth H.
Bill White (Oxfordshire, England) Sun Mar 2 2008
I bought some Mirabilis Jalapa bulbs. (My problem is very elementary). The packet contained no instructions on which way up they should be planted. The bulbs are about 5 inches (12 cm) long. They are about 3/4 long at one end, and the other end tapers almost to a point. My neighbour, who knows a great deal about gardening generally, is also unsure.
Elizabeth H.
Tue Jul 15 2008
its very easy to grow this plant since it can adapt to any temperature and climate.
Elizabeth H.
Quinike Sukirwan Mon Aug 4 2008
I planted Mirabilis sp. from tuber, about 4 inches deep in late May, and in July, they already are big (2 ft x 2 ft), and has lots of flower. Just wondering if they could be perennial in USDA Zone 5, or just annual?
Elizabeth H.
Bert Wilson Wed Dec 31 2008
I live in Dumbarton in West Scotland, our climate tends to be somewhat wet but quite warm in summer, but can be very cold and wet in winter. I bought Mirabilis tubers when we visited Keukenhof in Holland in Spring 2008 and planted them 4" deep and two-to-a-12" pot in May, started them off in my heated greenhouse and then moved pots outside to a sunny spot in mid-June when the shoots was up. They flowered well until late September when I cut them back and lifted tubers for drying off and storing overwinter as dahlia tubers. Will plant them up same again in April 2009 in two thirds good compost and one third grit plus good dose of fish, blood and bone fertiliser.
Elizabeth H.
Steve Lewis Thu Apr 9 2009
Tubers now available in many garden centres in Southern Ontario (Canada). Grows well in standing planters and group plantings in beds as far north as Zone 5 (Western Muskoka to shores of Lake Huron near Parry Sound). As with most summer bulbs in this regions, best results when plants are started indoors (heated greenhouse) in April and moved outside after last frost. I planted four tubers in a 55cm container with mixture of moss, artificial soil and well-rotted compost. May be grown as an annual or lift and store with Dahlias before first killing frost. Likes well-drained soil and lots of sun. Shelter from high winds.
Lily D.
Nov 29 2010 12:00AM
I have grown this plant for many years but this time I planted a row in heavy clay and all through the hot dry weather I never once watered them. I now have a wonderful display of yellow mirabilis which I intend to leave in all winter - I also have red ones all over the garden which have seeded themselves - a wonderful plant which saves on watering. Jannice Price, Leicestershire Friday 27th August 2010
QR Code

What's this?

This is a QR code (short for Quick Response) which gives fast-track access to our website pages. QR Codes are barcodes that can be read by mobile phone (smartphone) cameras. This QR Code is unique to this page. All plant pages have their own unique code. For more information about QR Codes click here.

1. Copy and print the QR code to a plant label, poster, book, website, magazines, newspaper etc and even t-shirts.
2. Smartphone users scan the QR Code which automatically takes them to the webpage the QR Code came from.
3. Smartphone users quickly have information on a plant directly for the pfaf.org website on their phone.
Rate This Plant                                         
Please rate this plants for how successful you have found it to be. You will need to be logged in to do this. Our intention is not to create a list of 'popular' plants but rather to highlight plants that may be rare and unusual and that have been found to be useful by website users. This hopefully will encourage more people to use plants that they possibly would not have considered before.
Add a comment/link                                         

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at admin@pfaf.org. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

Subject : Mirabilis jalapa  

Links To add a link to another website with useful info add the details here
Name of Site
URL of Site