Family: Nyctaginaceae (Bougainvillea family)
Genus: Mirabilis
Botanical name: Mirabilis jalapa Linn
Sanskrit: Krishnakeli, Sandhyakuli
English: Four O' Clock plant, Marvel of Peru
Hindi: Lal Gulabas
Malayalam: Nalumanichedi, Chuvanna Nalumanichedi
Four O' Clock plant flowers are trumpet shaped, about an inch across at the end and about two inches long. They open in the evening and wilt the next morning. Four o'clocks are leafy, shrublike, multi-branched perennials which bloom throughout summer. The plants are erect and spreading, 2-3 ft tall and just as wide. They have numerous branches and opposite, pointed leaves 2-4 in long. The fragrant flowers are borne singly or in clusters, and can be red, magenta, pink, yellow or white, sometimes with more than one color on the same plant. Like Petunia, bicolored flowers can also be grown. The plants continue to produce new flowers from late spring untill fall. Four o'clocks have large, black carrot shaped tubers that can be a foot or more long.
The flowers are used in food colouring. The leaves may be eaten cooked as well, but only as an emergency food. An edible crimson dye is obtained from the flowers to colour cakes and jellies. In herbal medicine, parts of the plant may be used as a diuretic, purgative, and for vulnerary (wound healing) purposes. The root is believed an aphrodisiac as well as diuretic and purgative. It is used in the treatment of dropsy.
The leaves are used to reduce inflammation. A decoction of them (mashing and boiling) is used to treat abscesses. Leaf juice may be used to treat wounds.
Powdered, the seed of some varieities is used as a cosmetic and a dye. The seeds are considered poisonous.
Four O' Clock Plant
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