Four o’clock, (Mirabilis jalapa): Distribution, Description, and Medicinal Uses


Kingdom: Plantae

 Division: Angiosperms

Class: Dicotyledons

Order: Caryophyllales

Family: Nyctaginaceae

Genus: Mirabilis

Species: jalapa

Common Name: Four o’clock, Gul-abbas


Mirabilis jalapa Linn. (M. Jalapa) is a member of the Nyctaginaceae family and is known in English as Beauty of the Night, Four O’clock, Sweet Marvel of Peru. Four O’clock are tall herbaceous climbing plants with opposite leaves, enormous spectacular flowers, coriaceous obovoid fruits, and noticeable tuberous roots that are grown as ornamental plants all over the world. The blooms of this species are grown for their bright colour and pleasant odour, and they are used in food colouring. The leaves can also be cooked and consumed, but only as a last resort. The flower of M. Jalapa is known as “Four O’clock” since it blooms in the late afternoon. It has pink, red, yellow, white, and some bi-colour flowers with a little vanilla aroma.

Mirabilis is a genus of herbaceous shrubs endemic to North America and known as “four o’clock” (The wealth of India, Raw materials, 1998). Mirabilis himalaica is a Himalayan species (Kirtikar and Basu, 1991). Some species are ornamental and are grown in warmer climates. The plant’s blossoms emit a powerful odour at night that is both stupefying and capable of driving mosquitos away.

Mirabilis jalapa Flower


Although it had long been widely disseminated as an attractive plant across the tropics, This plant has spread over the tropics of South America, Latin America, France, and India as a naturalised species. It grows primarily in West Bengal, Manipur, and the Western Himalayas in India.


1. Mirabilis jalapa L. (Nyctaginaceae) is a perennial herbaceous bushy plant that can reach a height of 1 metre (Khurian, 2003).

2. Mirabilis jalapa L. (Nyctaginaceae) is a perennial herbaceous bushy plant that grows up to 1 metre in height and width.

3. The roots are thick, tuberous, and 10 cm in diameter or more.

4. Nodes have bulging stems. The leaves are pointed, 5-10 cm long, and ovate and cordate.

5. Nut ellipsoid, rugose, and single-seeded fruits

6. The fragrant blooms are borne singly or in clusters and come in a variety of colours, including red, magenta, pink, yellow, and white, with many colours on the same plant. Flowers in two colours are also feasible. Individual flowers are trumpet-shaped, with a diameter of approximately one inch at the tip and a length of about two inches. They bloom in the evening and fade the following morning. From late spring to fall, the plants continue to produce new blossoms.

7. Flowers are funnel-shaped and found in clusters (The riches of India, Raw materials, 1998), with an involucre of five elliptical, connate bracts that are striped or blotched, fragrant, and white, yellow, purple, or red (Chetty et al 2008). An involucre of 5 ovate, connate, striped or blotched bracts supports the flowers.

8. The perianth is funnel-shaped and has five lobes. Stamens are exserted and number 3-6.

9. When shredded, Anthocarps are globose and black (Chetty et al 2008). Black seeds are twice as big as peppercorns (Khurian, 2003).

Medicinal Uses

1. Mirabilis jalapa Linn., both the complete plant and individual sections, has been used to treat several human illnesses in the past.

2. People from all around the world utilise the entire plant to treat muscular discomfort, diarrhoea, and abdominal colic. To cure kidney infections and diuresis, a decoction of the entire plant is administered orally.

3. The leaves’ infusion was used topically to alleviate edoema in bone fractures and twisting. Inflammation, boils, purgative, and emetic qualities are all employed in the leaves. In Sprain and bruising, the leaves are crushed and combined with salt.

4. The leaves are fried in clarified butter and secured around the abscess. Body pains are relieved by eating boiled leaves.

5. The leaf paste is used to treat amenorrhea and dysmenorrhea in women, as well as skin eruption and emollient properties. Hepatitis is treated with leaf juice, which is consumed orally. The juice from the leaves is slightly warmed and applied as a poultice to abscesses to aid with wound healing. To treat eye inflammation, leaf juice is used as an eye drop.

6. The leaf’s decoction is used to treat injuries and genitourinary system diseases. For depigmentation, the stem and leaves are employed.

7. Ayurveda, Siddha, and other ancient medical systems use leaves and roots to treat a variety of diseases.

8. The root and leaf decoction can be used to relieve pain and inflammation in arthritis patients. Roots are an aphrodisiac and can help with syphilitic sores. Inflammation is treated with root paste.

9. The root tubers are used as pickles by the locals of Shivalik Hills, Himachal Pradesh, for their nutritional content. In Rajasthan’s tribal communities, root tuber paste is used to control the growth of old tumours.

10. To treat piles, the tuber is given in very small doses. At the Bhadra Wild Life Sanctuary in Karnataka, a fruit paste mixed with coconut oil is used externally to relieve headaches in people and domestic animals.

11. Flowers are utilised in food colouring, and cakes and jellies are coloured with an edible crimson hue.

12. This plant has been used to treat diabetes in China as traditional Chinese medicine and ethnic drug. The powdered seed is said to be utilised as a cosmetic powder by the Japanese people.

13. Mirabilis jalapa L. roots were traditionally used for purgative, emetic, and cathartic purposes in Latin America and South Africa. The Mirabilis jalapa plant was used to relieve digestive discomfort in Malagasy.


M. jalapa is widely utilised as a medicinal plant in practically all folkloric treatments for treating various disorders all over the world. Studies have shown that it has antibacterial, antiviral, and antioxidant properties. Alkaloids, flavonoids, phenols, steroids, triterpenes, glycosides, tannins, saponins, and lignins were found in various regions of M. Jalapa after the chemical examination. A full TLC examination of these substances revealed alanine, arabinose, campesterol, daucosterol, and dopamine, as well as d-glucan, hexagon-1-ol, indicaxanthin, isobetanin, 6-methoxyboeravinone, C-methylabronisoflavones, miraxanthins, n-dotriacontane, n nonacosane Anthocyanins and flavonoids are commonly found in flowers. Anti-fungal phenolic compounds, ribosome-inactivating protein (RIP), which is linked to anti-viral action, anti-microbial peptides, and rotenoids, which are powerful inhibitors of HIV1 reverse transcriptase, were all recovered from different organs of M. Jalapa. M. Jalapa’s alcoholic extract may include active chemicals that are effective against pathogenic enteric bacteria. Gas chromatogram Mass spectrometry (GC-MS) examination of the Methanolic Extract of the complete plant of M. Jalapa revealed roughly twenty different chemical components. Traditional practitioners’ use of the whole plant for a variety of diseases is supported by the presence of several bioactive components.

Mirabilis jalapa

Traditional Uses

1. In China, the herb has been used for millennia as an anti-diabetic (Herbal pharmacology in the People’s Republic of China, pp. 63). The entire plant was decocted and given orally as a diuretic to treat kidney infections (Sharma et al, 2001). Tonic was made from stems (Chetty et al 2008).

2. Mirabilis jalapa L. roots have long been utilised for purgative, emetic, and cathartic purposes in Latin America and South Africa (Chetty et al 2008; Watt and Breyer-brendwijk, 1962,).

3. Roots were used to treat aberrant accumulations of pus and/or fluids in cavities, cellular structures, and inflammatory and swollen lymph nodes, among other things (Khurian, 2003).

4. Poultices made from bruised leaves were used to treat abscesses and boils. Juices extracted from leaves were used to treat skin allergies, earaches in youngsters (Khurian, 2003), as a tonic (Chetty et al 2008), and as an external application for wounds, bruises, and itching in urticaria (Khurian, 2003).

5. Infusions of leaves were used topically to minimise edoema in conditions such as bone fractures and twisting (Sharma et al, 2001).

6. Leaves were also employed in traditional folk medicine in the south of Brazil to treat inflammations, pain-related ailments, and as a laxative (Correa MP, 1984; Siddiqui et al 1990; Somavilla et al 1996).

7. The Plant’s leaves and stems were cooked with pork and used as a tonic in ancient China (The wealth of India, Raw materials, 1998). To eradicate freckles on the skin, seeds and flowers were employed (Khurian, 2003). Plants were utilised to relieve digestive aches in Madagascar (Watt and Breyer-brendwijk, 1962).


Question: What is the common name of Mirabilis jalapa in Hindi?

Ans.: Gul-abbas

Question: What is the common name of Mirabilis jalapa in English?

Ans.: Four o’clock

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