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Mirabilis jalapa

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flower flower

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Mirabilis jalapa (The four o'clock flower or marvel of Peru) is the most commonly grown ornamental species of Mirabilis, and is available in a range of colours. Mirabilis in Latin means wonderful. Mirabilis jalapa is said to have been exported from the Peruvian Andes in 1540. A curious aspect of this plant is that flowers of different colors can be found simultaneously on the same plant (see gallery). Additionally, an individual flower can be splashed with different colors. Another interesting point is a color-changing phenomenon. For example, in the yellow variety, as the plant matures, it can display flowers that gradually change to a dark pink color. Similarly white flowers can change to light violet. The flowers usually open from late afternoon onwards, then producing a strong, sweet-smelling fragrance, hence the first of its common names.
M. jalapa hails from tropical South America, but has become naturalised throughout tropical and warm temperate regions. In cooler temperate regions, it will die back with the first frosts, regrowing in the following spring from the tuberous roots. The plant does best in full sun. It grows to approximately 0.9 m in height. The single-seeded fruits are spherical, wrinkled and black upon maturity, having started out greenish-yellow. The plant will self-seed, often spreading rapidly if left unchecked in a garden. Some gardeners recommend that the seeds should be soaked before planting, but this is not totally necessary for this plant.
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.

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Read 11455 times Last modified on Saturday, 11 March 2017 18:26
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