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Nyctaginaceae: Four O'clock Family Plant Identification Characteristics.

Nyctaginaceae
Plants of the Four O'clock Family

      The Four-O'Clock family is mostly native to the tropics, with only a handful of plants in the northern latitudes. The funnel-shaped flowers are usually bisexual with 5 united sepals and no true petals, although the sepals are colored like petals. There may be sepal-like bracts at the base of the flower. There are 5 stamens (sometimes 1 to 3). The ovary is positioned superior and consists of 1 carpel (unicarpellate). It matures as a dry seed (an achene). The sepals persist as the ovary matures.

      Worldwide, there are 30 genera and 300 species, a few of which are used as ornamentals, including Bougainvillea. Fifteen genera are native to North America, mostly in the South and Southwest. The flowers of Mirabilis bloom late in the day, hence the family name. Note that verbena (Abronia) is not related to the Verbena Family.

Key Words: Tubular flowers with 5 colored sepals and no petals.

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Abronia fragrans. Snowball Sand Verbena.

Abronia fragrans. Snowball Sand Verbena. Escalante River, Utah.

Abronia fragrans. Snowball Sand Verbena.

Abronia fragrans. Snowball Sand Verbena. Escalante River, Utah.

Abronia villosa. Desert Sand Verbena.

Abronia villosa. Desert Sand Verbena.

Abronia villosa. Desert Sand Verbena.

Abronia villosa. Desert Sand Verbena. Photographed at Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

Foraging the Mountain West
Foraging the Mountain West
Abronia latifolia. Sand Verbena.

Abronia latifolia. Sand Verbena. Photographed on the Oregon-California coast.

Mirabilis linearis. Narrowleaf Four O'Clock.

Mirabilis linearis. Narrowleaf Four O'Clock.

Mirabilis linearis. Narrowleaf Four O'Clock.

Mirabilis linearis. Narrowleaf Four O'Clock. Eastern Montana.

Bougainvillea spectabilis. Great Bougainvillea.

Bougainvillea spectabilis. Great Bougainvillea. Native to South America.

Bougainvillea spectabilis. Great Bougainvillea.

Bougainvillea spectabilis. Great Bougainvillea. Photographed in Mexico City.

There are more
Four O'clock Family pictures
at PlantSystematics.org.


Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification
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Botany in a Day
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Foraging the Mountain West: Gourmet Edible Plants, Mushrooms, and Meat.
Foraging the
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Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification
Botany
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