Mirabilis albida (Hairy Four O'clock)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Genus:Mirabilis
Family:Nyctaginaceae (Four O'Clock)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:native
Habitat:sun; dry sandy or rocky soil; fields, prairies, railroads
Bloom season:June - October
Plant height:1 to 3 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Flower shape: tubular Cluster type: flat Cluster type: panicle

[photo of flowers] Clusters of stalked flowers in groups of 3 or more at the tips of branching stems in the upper part of the plant. Flowers are white to rose pink, about ½ inch across, with 5 spreading, notched, petal-like sepals fused into a short tube. 3 or more long pink stamens with yellow tips and a long style project from the center. Behind the flower is a densely hairy, saucer-shaped bract with 5 broadly triangular lobes, the lobes folded around the flower bud and spreading out in fruit. The flowers open in late afternoon and close in the morning.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Most leaves are in the lower part of the plant, below the flowering branches and are somewhat variable but typically up to 4 inches long and to 1½ inches wide, toothless, lance to narrowly egg-shaped with a pointed tip, tapering or rounded base, nearly erect to spreading, short stalked to stalkless. Leaves are hairy, especially along major veins on the underside, and edges tend to be wavy. Stems are a bit sticky, usually lined especially in the upper plant, and densely covered in spreading hairs though may be sparsely so near the base.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

[photo of fruit] The bracts spread out and dry to a pale greenish brown as fruit develops. Fruit is a dry seed, oval-elliptic, brown, 5-angled, densely hairy, and less than ¼ inch long.

Notes:

The flowers of Hairy Four O'Clock are much like those of the related Wild Four O'clock (Mirabilis nyctaginea), but the shape of the leaves, sticky upper stem, and overall hairiness of the plant easily distinguish it. The best time to see the plant in bloom is very early morning when the sun is just rising. The flowers start closing up soon after.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake and Rice Creek Trail Regional Parks in Ramsey County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken along Centerville Rd in Anoka County.

Comments

Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Shelley - Jeffers Petroglyphs
on: 2009-09-26 13:04:34

Found on the rock outcropping growing with Evergreen moss and cushion moss with a soil depth of about 4-5 inches. Images of it were taken in Late June-early July. Based only on the images, the DNR Botanists have identified it as "Mirabilis hirsuta".

Jeffers Petroglyphs site (Brown/Cottonwood county border) has native prairie around the rock outcropping and restored prairie around it.

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