MARVEL-OF-PERU

MARVEL OF PERU / FOUR O CLOCK FLOWER

Mirabilis jalapa

Marvel-of-Peru Family [Nyctaginaceae]

month8sep month8sept month8oct month8nov

status
statusZalien
 
flower
flower8red
 
flower
flower8bicolour
 
flower
flower8bicolour2
 
flower
flower8bicolour3
 
flower
flower8bicolour4
 
morph
morph8actino
 
petals
petalsZ5
 
type
typeZtrumpet
 
stem
stem8round
 
smell
smell8fragrant
fragrant
toxicity
toxicityZmedium
 

19th Aug 2017, dunes outside garden, Crosby, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
The plant nearest the wall behind the Common Ragwort. The red flowers are just small buds and not yet open; come September they will be. It is a garden plant, an alien introduced-survivor. It is the most commonly grown ornamental species of Mirabilis that is grown in gardens.


2nd Sept 2017, dunes outside garden, Crosby, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
It's now September, and the flowers are open. An erect and branched perennial growing to 1m, this specimen is considerably shorter.


2nd Sept 2017, dunes outside garden, Crosby, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Leaves are ovate and pointed.


2nd Sept 2017, dunes outside garden, Crosby, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Flowers red, with a long narrow tubular section which abruptly flares to a wide opening. However, differently coloured flowers can even occur on the same plant, such as red and orange bi-coloured flowers or red any yellow bi-coloured flowers. Spots are also common. White-purple bicolours and white-yellow bicolours are also possible. Moreover, the flower colour on each individual flower can change as the plant matures - thus white flowers can change to pale violet, and yellow to a dark-pink colour. These colour changes are no doubt due to the changes in composition of the Betalains.


2nd Sept 2017, dunes outside garden, Crosby, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Flowers in axillary cymes.


2nd Sept 2017, dunes outside garden, Crosby, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
The leaves are either hairless to sparsely hairy (sparsly hairy on this specimen).


2nd Sept 2017, dunes outside garden, Crosby, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Before opening, the end of the flowers look like a Philips Screwdriver, albeit one with 5 splines rather than four.


2nd Sept 2017, dunes outside garden, Crosby, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
The flowers emerge from a toothed 'calyx'. The teeth of the 'calyx' are actually fused together over most of their length apart from the very end. The 'calyx' is actually an involucre of bracts. It is the 'petals' which are in fact pigmented modifications of the calyx. Confused? So, it seems, is this plant!


2nd Sept 2017, dunes outside garden, Crosby, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
The flower opening has 5 fused petaloid segments. Flower colour normally red. but other colours can be found. There are 5 filaments with an anther each, plus one style, all concolourous with the flower colour. The flowers usually open at 4 O'clock, hence the other common name of the plant 'Four O'Clock Flower'


Not to be semantically confused with : Peruvian Lily (Alstroemeria aurea) nor to Apple-of-Peru Nicandra physalodes [plants with similar names belonging to differing families]

Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature :

The 'fruits' are large, nearly black but not real fruits. They are displayed within the opening of the flower. Sorry, no 'fruit' photos as yet...

In addition to the chemicals mentioned below, Marvel-of-Peru also contains the steroidal compounds Campesterol, Daucosterol, Brassicasterol and β-Stigmasterol. Also, the TriTerpenoids α-Amyrin, β-Amyrin, Oleanolic Acid and Ursolic Acid. The diterpenoid Mirabalisol is also found as well as the methyl-Betaine Trigonelline which is also found in Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) from which plant it was named.

BETALAINS

The Betalains are indole-derived pigments replacing anthocyanin pigments in plants belonging to the Caryophyllanes and in higher-order fungi. The deep colours of Beets (and other cultivars of Beta vulgaris), Bougainvillea, Amaranth and many cacti owe their deep colours to these compounds. There are two categories of Betalains: BetaCyanins (which are not present in Marvel-of-Peru) and BetaXanthins (which are). Betalain pigments and AnthoCyanin pigments are mutually exclusive,- no plant ever produces both, but sometimes those producing Betalain pigments also produce AnthoXanthins. Most members of the Caryophyllanes produce betalain pigments; only two families within the Caryophyllanes produce AnthoCyanins instead of Betalains, namely the Caryophyllaceae (Carnation) family and the Molluginaceae family. The production (or not) of Betalains is now used diagnostically in Taxonomy.

The colour of all Betalains is due to the oscillatory twisting of the C=N double bond which induces larger rotations about the C=C bond just beneath it in the structural formulae diagrams. Your Author wonders if this might mean that MiraXanthin I and MiraXanthin II are not coloured by this resonance, seeing as both these lack the requisite C=N bond (being replaced by a C-N bond, which is therefore free to rotate continuously rather than twist clockwise and anticlockwise like a clock escapement with hairspring balance wheel).

Betalains perform a photoregulation and hormone control role in plants.



BETAXANTHINES

These are yellow to orange coloured Betalain pigments and include VulgaXanthin, MiraXanthins, IndicaXanthine and Portulaxanthin (present in species belonging to the Portulaca genus), only the latter compound has not been found in Marvel-of-Peru. Betaxanthines cannot be hydrolysed by acid to strip them of any sugar moiety without also fundamentally changing their chemical structures. They are shown here as the aglycones, without their sugar moieties.


The BetaXanthines are based upon a Betalamic Acid moiety.


 Indicaxanthin is a powerful anti-oxidant present in Beets (Beta vulgaris spp), in Marvel-of-Peru and in cacti such as Prickly Pear (Opuntia genus). It has charge-separation on the 4-valent nitrogen atom, and is therefore a zwitterion as are many betalaines.

Indicaxanthin was first found in the dye extracted from the fruits of Barbary Fig aka Prickly Pear Opunti ficus-indica, a species of cactus which has long been domesticated in semi-arid parts of the world as a crop plant. Barbary Fig has orange, yellow or white flowers, but the colour of the fruits the dye is extracted from are bright red to purple or yellow to white. The juice of the fruit, which is red in colour, contains both Betanin and Indicaxanthin.

The colour of the mixture of Indicaxanthin (yellow-orange) and Betanin (purple) is highly dependant upon the pH (as you might expect for a Zwitterion with separated positive and negative charges). Dying at pH 4 yields optimum results. Various metal salts added as mordant improve light-fastness, but un-mordanted wool already has good water and washing fastness.


There are five Vulgaxanthines known, I to V, but only VulgaXanthin-I has been reported to occur in Marvel-of-Peru.



MIRAXANTHINES

MiraXanthines are dyes present in plants belonging to the Caryophyllales





Miraxanthine V and Miraxanthin III are closely related to each other; both contain a Dopamine (aka 3,4-DiHydroxyPhenylEthylAmine) moiety in their structure. Dopamine is one of the main neurotransmitters in the mammalian brain out of the dozens that have now been found operating within it. Dopamine itself is found within the petals of the flower.

The structure of Miraxanthin IV is not certain, because it does not occur in sufficient quantities to determine. Instead of the Dopamine moiety in Miraxanthin V and III, Miraxanthin IV, as depicted, has a 3,4-DiHydroxyPhenylMethylAmine moiety attached to it. This moiety is also an important neurotransmitter of the Catecholamine type in the mammalian brain.


ROTENOIDES


Rotenoids are chemically related to IsoFlavones and have a skeleton consisting of two units fused at the cis-position. They are characterised by Rotenone, a toxic insecticidal compound found in several non-native plants and reportedly also found in Great Mullein (Verbascum thapsus). Rotenoids are also found in members of the Nyctaginaceae family of plants, which includes the genera Boerhavia in which Boervinones were first found and Mirabilis in which Mirabijalones were discovered. There are many other families of Rotenoids.



MIRABIJALONES

Mirabijalones are named after this plant in which they are found.

Mirabijalones have the same Rotenoid skeleton as do the Boeravinones.



BOERAVINONES

The boeravinones are found in the roots of Marvel-of-Peru along with Glycerin MonoEicosate and β-Sitosterol.

Boeravinones are also found in the Boerhavia genus of the same Nyctaginaceae family to which Marvel-of-Peru belongs. But no plants of the Boerhavia genus are found growing wild in the UK.



  Mirabilis jalapa  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Nyctaginaceae  

Distribution
 family8Marvel-of-Peru family8Nyctaginaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Mirabilis
Mirabilis
(Marvel-of-Peru)

MARVEL-OF-PERU

MARVEL OF PERU / FOUR O CLOCK FLOWER

Mirabilis jalapa

Marvel-of-Peru Family [Nyctaginaceae]