Sunday, August 18, 2019

Fragrant Four O’Clocks

Santa Cruz Mountains


Harlequin flowers of yellow and magenta 


A strange plant appeared in my garden, uninvited but not unwelcomed. The flowers only open on warm and windless late summer afternoons. 

Two variegated flowers, yellow with magenta stripes

Variegated with yellow and magenta in endless varieties, enormous numbers of whimsical harlequin blossoms burst forth for just a month or two.

a half solid magenta, half variegated yellow blossom

Dubbed “Fragrant Four O’clocks,” even their scientific name Mirabilis jalapa intrigues the imagination. Mirabilis translates to amazing, wonderful, remarkable.

two blooms just opening, black seeds, and full bloom in distance

Each plant brings forth a steady stream of new blossoms, at the same time producing large black seeds that drop to the ground to ensure next year’s crop.

two solid magenta blooms, one variegated yellow bloom

This tropical South American native pops out plenty of pure magenta blooms, but no pure yellow. Yellow blossoms are always variegated with magenta.

two variegated yellow blooms that look like hibiscus

The fragrance of the Fragrant Four O’Clocks is light and subtle. It intensifies in late afternoon. Another of Mirabilis’ fanciful charms.

half and half magenta and yellow variegated, with other blooms and seeds in distance

Self-sowing, bright, unpredictable, and delightful, Mirabilis is also known as Miracle of Peru. It’s a cheery addition to your summer garden.

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