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Mirabilis jalapa Minimize

GENUS: Mirabilis

Mirabilis jalapa L.—Four o'clock

FAMILY: Nyctaginaceae—The Four o'clock Family

Relatively few members of this family occur in Pennsylvania. A full description of the poisonous plant is given below.

PHENOLOGY: This perennial plant of warmer regions is cultivated in Pennsylvania as a garden annual. It flowers in the summer and is fragrant in the evening hours.

DISTRIBUTION: This widely cultivated plant occasionally escapes to roadsides and wasteplaces.

PLANT CHARACTERISTICS: Four-o'clock is a much-branched, erect plant growing to 1 m tall; leaves: ovate, opposite, deep green, the lower, primary ones petioled, acuminate; flowers: 3.5 cm across, red, pink. yellow, or white, often striped and mottled, opening in late afternoon or during daytime in cloudy weather; calyx tube: corollalike, 2-3 cm, 5-lobed at top, corolla: absent; involucre: 5-lobed, calyxlike, 6-8 mm at flowering; fruit: rounded at the summit, tapered at base.

POISONOUS PARTS: The roots and seeds are reported to be poisonous; herbage should also be considered suspect.

SYMPTOMS: Gastroenteritis, including vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, are symptomatic.

POISONOUS PRINCIPLES: The toxic principles are unknown.

CONFUSED TAXA: No plant, native or introduced, is readily confused with four o'clock.

SPECIES OF ANIMALS AFFECTED: Children have been poisoned from ingestion of fouro'clock roots and seeds. Livestock might also be susceptible.

TREATMENT: (11a)(b); (26)

OF INTEREST: Mirabilis jalapa has shown some potential as an anticancer chemotherapeutic.

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