Mirabilis jalapa, the marvel of Peru or four o’clock flower, is the most commonly grown ornamental species of Mirabilis plant and is available in a range of colors. Mirabilis in Latin means wonderful and Jalapa (or Xalapa) is the state capital of Veracruz in México. Mirabilis jalapa was cultivated by the Aztecs for medicinal and ornamental purposes.
The flowers usually open from late afternoon or at dusk (namely between 4 and 8 o’clock), giving rise to one of its common names. Flowers then produce a strong, sweet-smelling fragrance throughout the night, then close for good in the morning. New flowers open the following day. It arrived in Europe in 1525. Today, it is common in many tropical regions and is also valued in Europe as a (not hardy) ornamental plant. It is the children’s state flower of Connecticut under the name of Michaela Petit’s Four O’Clocks.