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Mirabilis linearis
Mirabilis linearis
Mirabilis linearis. Synonym: Oxybaphus linearis. (Narrow-leaf Four O'Clocks).
Nyctaginaceae (Four O'Clock Family)

Semi-desert, foothills.  Woodlands, roadsides, openings. Summer, fall.
Above: Carpenter Natural Area, Cortez, August 20, 2016.
Left: Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, September 19, 2005.

Oxybaphus linearis has a growth pattern similar to Mirabilis oxybaphoides: spreading in large clumps to several feet in diameter and from 8 to 40 inches tall.  Stems are a light green to green-white, leaves narrow (hence "linearis"), and flowers are small, abundant, and in three-flower clusters  --  although one, two, or three flowers at a time may be blooming.  The plant pictured had only one flower per cluster in bloom.  Flower color can range from white to pink to red/purple.

The showy pink flowers are actually made up of fused sepals, for Nyctaginaceae have no petals.

Frederick Pursh named this plant Allionia linearis in 1814 from a collection made by J. Bradbury in 1810 "in upper Louisiana", i.e., the Louisiana Territory. The Mirabilis linearis name was given by Anton Heimerl in 1901. Benjamin Robinson renamed the species Oxybaphus linearis in 1908.

Oxybaphus linearis
Mirabilis linearis. Synonym: Oxybaphus linearis. (Narrow-leaf Four O'Clocks).
Nyctaginaceae (Four O'Clock Family)

Semi-desert, foothills.  Woodlands, roadsides, openings. Summer, fall.
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, September 19, 2005.
Fine hairs cover the bracts, stems, and leaves.

"Oxybaphon" is Greek for "saucer"; the word alludes to the shape of the involucre, the cluster of bracts (red and green in the photograph) at the base of the flowers.  You can see that the bracts of each three-flower cluster are connate (joined) for 1/3 or more of their length.

You can also see how very hairy the involucres are and a close look will show that the hairs are bulbous-tipped, i.e., they are glandular hairs. The stem, however, has both glandular and non-glandular hairs.

Mirabilis linearis
Mirabilis linearis. Synonym: Oxybaphus linearis. (Narrow-leaf Four O'Clocks).
Nyctaginaceae (Four O'Clock Family)

Semi-desert, foothills.  Woodlands, roadsides, openings. Summer, fall.
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, September 19, 2005.

Mirabilis oxybaphoides
Mirabilis oxybaphoides (Trailing Four O'Clocks)
Nyctaginaceae (Four O'Clock Family)

Semi-desert, foothills.  Woodlands, roadsides, openings. Summer, fall.
Lower Dolores River Canyon, September 12, 2005.

Trailing Four O'Clocks spread along the ground for three, four, or five feet and grow to several feet high.  Leaves are thin and heart-shaped on light green stems.  Flower clusters are numerous, three to a cluster (although not usually all three blooming at the same time), and lovely light pink.  

Linnaeus names this genus in 1753 and Asa Gray named the species Quamoclidion oxybaphoides in 1853 but renamed it Mirabilis oxybaphoides in 1859.

"Mirabilis" is Latin for "wonderful".  "Oides" means "similar to" and thus "Oxybaphoides" means "similar to the genus Oxybaphus", another genus of Nyctaginaceae.

Mirabilis oxybaphoides
Mirabilis oxybaphoides (Trailing Four O'Clocks)
Nyctaginaceae (Four O'Clock Family)

Semi-desert, foothills.  Woodlands, roadsides, openings. Summer, fall.
Lower Dolores River Canyon, September 12, 2005.

Buds and bracts are glandular, i.e., sticky hairy; in the picture at left you can see tiny brown sand particles stuck to these hairs.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key
Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Mirabilis linearis

Range map for Mirabilis oxybaphoides