Alien Invasives

Four o’ Clock (Mirabilis jalapa)


10 October 2016

Four o’ Clock (Mirabilis jalapa)

Four o’ Clock is a bushy, tender perennial that typically grows tall on erect, branching stems. The flowers are fragrant, funnel-shaped and tubular with five flaring petal-like lobes. Flowers bloom from early summer to autumn. The name is derived from the flowers opening in the late afternoon (around four o’ clock) and they stay open only until the following morning.

Other names
Heart-leaf Four-o’ Clock, Heart-leaf Umbrella-wort, Snotweed, Umbrella-wort (English)
Vieruurtjie (Afrikaans)
Invasive status
NEMBA Category 1b

Four o’ Clock
Originally from
Tropical America
Where is it a problem?
Largely confined to Gauteng Province, with scattered records from Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West Province
How does it spread?
Seed dispersal
Why is it a problem?
Regarded as a minor environmental weed or “sleeper weed” in many parts of the world meaning it is capable of withstanding extended droughts due to the tuberous roots. It has potential to out compete indigenous vegetation. The seeds and plant are poisonous if ingested.
Ornamental. The flowers are used as food colouring. If cooked, the leaves may be eaten as an emergency food.

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