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Mirabilis linearis   (Pursh ) Heimerl
Pawnee County, Kansas
Height: 8-60 inches
Family: Nyctaginaceae - Four-o'clock Family
Flowering Period:   June, July, August, September
Also Called: Narrowleaf umbrella-wort.
Stems: Erect to ascending or trailing on the ground, slender, often branched above, usually whitish, waxy, glabrous or nearly so below, glandular-hairy above especially in inflorescence; leaves in lower 1/5 to throughout.
Leaves: Opposite, simple, short-stalked to nearly sessile, few to many, ascending to spreading, narrowly linear to linear-lanceolate, 1.2 to 4.6 inches long, 1/25 to 3/5 inch wide, thick, 1-nerved, gray-green, glabrous or rarely minutely glandular-pubescent, usually waxy; margins entire to rarely undulate or sparsely toothed; tip narrowed to point or rounded; becoming wrinkled when dry.
Inflorescences: Panicle, open, freely-branched or cyme-like, terminal or axillary or both; stalk 1/8 to 2/5 inch long, minutely glandular-pubescent or sparsely-hairy.
Flowers: Involucral bracts united, simulating calyx, pale green, sometimes purple tinged, pubescent; calyces corolla-like, bell-shaped, 1/3 to 1/2 inch long, white, pink or purplish-red, 5-lobed; lobes fused, tips notched; petals absent; stamens 3-5, unequal, projecting beyond edge of calyx.
Fruits: Egg-shaped, 1/6 to 1/5 inch long, 5-angled, brownish-olive, surface ribs rough, pubescent; seeds about 1/8 inch, yellowish-brown.
Habitat: Stream valleys, roadsides, pastures; dry sandy or rocky soils.
Distribution: Throughout Kansas; more common westward
Origin: Native
Uses: Native Americans used the root to treat stomach disorders, soaked the crushed root and applied it as a poultice to burns, and ate the root to induce urination and vomiting. The plant was steeped and the tea given to humans, sheep and horses for coughs and the liquid applied as a lotion to bring good luck when hunting or trading. The fruits were stewed or roasted and used for food.
Comments: After pollination the calyx drops off and leaves the enlarged papery involucre which subtends the club-like, hairy fruits. "Four-o'clock" refers to the flowers opening in late afternoon and "umbrellawort" refers to the involucre bracts that resemble an umbrella. The flowers last only one day. From Latin mirabilis, "marvelous".
 See wild four o'clock.

Narrowleaf four o'clock flower
37 KB
Pawnee County, Kansas
Narrowleaf four o'clock leaves
106 KB
Pawnee County, Kansas