Four O’Cocks (Mirabilis nyctaginea)

four o'clocks

Four O’Clocks is a herbaceous perennial that can reach three feet tall and blooms from June to the first hard frost.   It has pink, red, yellow or white flowers.   The flowers will open at about 4 pm  and remain open all night.   For this reason it attracts birds, butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds.   It likes full sun to part shade with semi-moist soils.   It is a very hardy once it is established.    Although the stem will turn brown in the winter and needs to be pruned, its roots are tuberous and will survive in very cold soils.   We have found that it re-seeds under the right conditions but it is not invasive.   All parts of this plant are poisonous if ingested.

The Cherokee would make a poultice out of the roots to treat boils.  The leaves were also crushed with milk as a fly killer.    This was sometimes done in nearby areas around Cherokee smokehouses and cabins.

four o'clocks 2

For years my Mother had a similar Four O’Clocks blooming beside the back steps.    It survived for many, many years in spite of the harsh Oklahoma winters.

 

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