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Vascular Plants of California
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Mirabilis albida

Higher Taxonomy
Family: NyctaginaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key
Habit: Annual, perennial herb, subshrub, [shrub, tree], glabrous or hairy. Stem: often forked. Leaf: opposite, sessile or petioled, pairs generally unequal; blade generally entire. Inflorescence: generally forked; spike, head-like cluster, or umbel, flowers rarely 1, bracts forming a calyx-like involucre or not. Flower: bisexual, generally +- radial (bilateral), sometimes cleistogamous in some genera; perianth of 1 whorl, generally petal-like, bell- to trumpet-shaped, base hardened, tightly surrounding ovary in fruit, lobes 3--5, generally notched to +- lobed; stamens 1--many; ovary superior (appearing inferior due to hardened perianth base), style 1. Fruit: achene in hardened perianth base; round to +- flat; smooth, angled, ribbed, or winged; glabrous, hairy, or glandular.
Genera In Family: 30 genera, 350 species: warm regions, especially America; some ornamental (Bougainvillea; Mirabilis, four o'clock).
eFlora Treatment Author: Andy Murdock, except as noted
Scientific Editor: Thomas J. Rosatti.
Genus: MirabilisView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Common Name: FOUR O'CLOCK
Habit: Perennial herb, subshrub. Stem: repeatedly forked, decumbent to erect. Leaf: generally petioled. Inflorescence: branches ending in umbel-like cluster or solitary flowers; bracts 5(9), +- fused (or not) into calyx-like, bell- to saucer-shaped involucre; flowers in 1 involucre 1--16, generally not blooming together; flowers cleistogamous or not. Flower: radial or +- bilateral; perianth funnel- to bell-shaped, lobes 5; stamens 3--5, generally exserted; stigma +- spheric, generally exserted. Fruit: +- round to club-shaped; ribs or angles 0, 5, 10; wings 0.
Species In Genus: +- 60 species: America, Himalayas. Etymology: (Latin: wonderful) Note: Flowers open in evening, close in morning; species intergrade, taxonomy unsettled.
eFlora Treatment Author: Andy Murdock
Reference: Spellenberg 2003 FNANM 4:40--57
Mirabilis albida (Walter) Heimerl
Habit: Stem, leaf hairs short to long, glandular or not. Stem: decumbent to erect, 10--50 cm (in California). Leaf: petiole < 4 cm, blade 2--6 cm lanceolate or wider. Inflorescence: axillary involucres generally 1, with cleistogamous flowers; involucre cup-shaped, green or +- purple, hairy, (1)3(5)-flowered, enlarged, < 8 mm, brown, papery in fruit; bracts 5, >= 1/2 fused. Flower: perianth 8--12 mm, broadly funnel-shaped, light pink to magenta. Fruit: 3--5 mm, tapered at both ends; ribs 5, wide, with warts or wrinkles between.
Ecology: Dry, rocky areas; Elevation: 1400--2500 m. Bioregional Distribution: SnBr, SnJt, W&I, DMtns; Distribution Outside California: North America. Flowering Time: May--Aug Note: Complex including variable, poorly defined, intergrading taxa and many named forms, some of which in California merit further study.
Synonyms: Mirabilis comata (Small) Standl.; Mirabilis oblongifolia (A. Gray) Heimerl; Mirabilis pumila (Standl.) Standl.
Unabridged Note: Mirabilis albida is the oldest name for a more broadly defined sp. that include Mirabilis oblongifolia (A. Gray) Heimerl and Mirabilis pumila (Standl.) Standl. as recognized in TJM (1993) (Spellenberg 2004 FNANM); California plants identified as Mirabilis comata (Small) Standl. probably should be treated as a new taxon, a var. of Mirabilis albida (name not yet published); study needed.
Jepson eFlora Author: Andy Murdock
Reference: Spellenberg 2003 FNANM 4:40--57
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)

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Botanical illustration including Mirabilis albida

botanical illustration including Mirabilis albida


Citation for this treatment: Andy Murdock 2012, Mirabilis albida, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora, /eflora/eflora_display.php?tid=33782, accessed on February 23, 2020.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2020, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on February 23, 2020.

Mirabilis albida
click for enlargement
© 2015 Barry Breckling
Mirabilis albida
click for enlargement
© 2016 Keir Morse
Mirabilis albida
click for enlargement
© 2016 Keir Morse
Mirabilis albida
click for enlargement
© 2015 Barry Breckling
Mirabilis albida
click for enlargement
© 2016 Keir Morse
Mirabilis albida
click for enlargement
© 2015 Barry Breckling

More photos of Mirabilis albida in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Mirabilis albida:
SnBr, SnJt, W&I, DMtns
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map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).


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Data provided by the participants of the  Consortium of California Herbaria.
View all CCH records
All markers link to CCH specimen records. The original determination is shown in the popup window.
Blue markers indicate specimens that map to one of the expected Jepson geographic subdivisions (see left map). Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.

CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time (fruiting time in some monocot genera).