Mirabilis jalapa L.

Last updated: 3 July 2017

Scientific Name

Mirabilis jalapa L.


Mirabilis lindheimeri (Standl.) Shinners, Nyctago jalapae (L.) DC., Jalapa officinalis Garsault [Invalid], Nyctago hortensis Dum.Cours. [Illegitimate], Nyctago versicolor Salisb. [Illegitimate]. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Bunga pukul empat, kembang pukul empat, kembang lohor, kembang dzohor [2]
English Four-o’clock, marvel of peru, false jalap [2]
Indonesia Kembang sore, kembang pagi sore, kembang pukul empat, bunga waktu kechil (Melayu); kederat, segerattegerat (Java); Noja (Bali); bungga ledonosko (Roti); loro laka (Timor); bunga-bunga paranggi (Makasar); pukul ampa (Minahasa); kupa oras (Ambon); cako rana (Ternate) [2][4][5]
Thailand Zi Mo Li [2][4]  
Philippines Gilalas (Tagalog); maravillas, suspiros (Spanish-Filipino) [2][3][4] 
Korea Punkkot [2]
German Wunderblume [2]
Spain Clavellina, maravilla, hoja de xalapam  [2][3][5][6]

Geographical Distributions

Mirabilis jalapa is native in South America, now widely distributed as ornamental. [3]

Botanical Description

M. jalapa is a member of Nyctaginaceae family. It is an erect herb reaching up to 1 m tall. The leaves are simple, cordate, 3 – 12 cm long, with acute. The flowers come in red, pink, yellow or white, bisexual and they bloom in late afternoon. The fruits are black and globose 5 – 8 mm in diameter. [3]


No documentation

Chemical Constituent

M. jalapa has been reported to contain (2, 5-dioxoimidazolidin-4-yl)-urea, 2’-O-methylabronisoflavone, 3, 4-dihydroxybenzaldehyd, 4'-hydroxy-2,3-dihydroflavone-7-b-D-glucopyranoside, 6-methoxybioeravinone C, astragaloside II, astragaloside IV, astragaloside VI, β-sitosterol, betaxanthins, boeravinone, daucosterol, flazin, gingerglycolipid A, glycerin monoeicosate, p-hydroxybenzaldehyde, trigonellin. [3][7]

Plant Part Used

Leaves, roots and fruits (for external use) [3][8][9]

Traditional Use

Mainly as ornamentals. It is also used in some traditional medical practices to provide cures for certain diseases. The leaves provide relieve of abscesses in the form of a decoction, and can also be poultice over boils, blisters and urticaria. The seeds can act as purgative, while the roots a laxative in the form of a decoction. [3]

The leaves and roots of M. jalapa are considered a purgative with the roots being used most frequently. In Madagascar the roots are used to treat intestinal pains. [3][9][10]

The plant is used to treat infectious conditions like tonsillitis, pharyngitis, genitor-urinary infection, prostatitis, abscesses, carbuncle, furuncle and leucorrhoea in Indonesia and Africa. The leaves are also placed on boils, blisters to hasten suppurations and to relieve urticaria. [3][6][9]

Juice of the leaves are used to treat wounds and at the same time considered a tonic. The Chinese prepare the tonic by using the juice with pork. A decoction of the root with or without pork helps relieve colds, inflammation and leucorrhoea. The leaves are considered an aphrodisiac. It is also a remedy for stones of the kidney and gall bladder, diabetes and chyluria. [3][9][10]

Preclinical Data


Antinociceptive activity

Traditionally M. jalapa leaves were prescribed for inflammatory and painful conditions is Brazil. Studies on the antinociceptive activity of extracts of the leaves and stem is models of pain in mice. They found that the crude extract of the stem was more effective than the hydroethanolic extract of the leaves while amongst the fractions studied the ethyl-acetate fraction of the leaves was more effective and potent to induce antinociception. The mode of action of the Eta fraction seem to be dependent upon the cholinergic system. It did not alter locomotor activity, body temperature, gastrointestinal transit nor did it produce any gastric lesions. [11]

Antispasmodic activity

The extract of M. jalapa showed inhibitory effect on gut smooth muscle contractility while at the same time stimulated the contraction of rabbit aortic muscle in a concentration-dependent manner. These effects were not due to either ACh of HIS receptors blockage, IP(3), cAMP, cGMP, Ca2+ release from intracellular storage or protein kinase mediated contraction-relaxation mechanism. This effect may be mediated via serotoninergic mechanism which in turn interacts with other adrenergic systems. [12]

Trypsin inhibitors activity

Study identified five serine proteinase inhibitors in the seeds of M. jalapa and Spinacia oleracea. [13]

Antifungal activity

A bioassay-guided fractionation of an organic extract of the cell mass form manipulated plant cell culture of M. jalapa resulted in the isolation of three new phenolic compounds. Two of the phenolic compounds showed active inhibitory activity against Candida albicans. [14]

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

No documentation

Adverse reaction

The strong purgative action of the roots believed to be caused by the oxymethylanthraquinone and trigonelline, can be incapacitating to some people especially children. The sap irritates skin and mucous membranes while handling the roots or seeds have been known to cause dermatitis. Flowers, fruit sap or root products can cause vomiting and diarrhoea. [4]

Interaction & Depletion

No documentation


No documentation

Poisonous Management

Toxic parts

Tuberous roots and seeds. [15][16][17][18]


Alkaloid trigonelline, which is irritant to the skin and lining of the stomach and intestine. [15][16][17]

Risk management

The poisonous effect is not widely known and most of the time rather mild. It should not pose much of a problem as an ornamental, however, house owner should be wary of the possible poisonous effects of various parts of the plant. [15][16][17][18]

Poisonous clinical findings

Severe gastro-intestinal distress in children which causes vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pains. Handling of roots may cause dermatitis in sensitive individual. Seeds may produce hallucinations if smoked or ingested. [15][16][17][18]


Initial treatment includes gastric lavage and emesis is recommended to remove as much of the offending substance as possible. Treatment of symptoms as they appear and provide supportive therapy in the form of fluid replancement. [15][16][17][18]

Line drawing

No documentation


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Mirabilis jalapa. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2017 July 3]. Available from: http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-2502156
  2. Hanelt P, editor. Mansfeld's encyclopedia of agricultural and horticultural crops. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 2001; p. 232
  3. Koh HL, Kian CT, Tan KH. A guide to medicinal plants: An illustrated, scientific and medicinal approach. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing, 2009; p. 101-102
  4. Nellis DW. Poisonous plants and animals of Florida and the Caribbean. Sarasota, Florida: Pineapple Press, 1997; p. 220
  5. Manandhar NP. Plants and people of Nepal. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, 2002; p. 320
  6. Pardo De Tavera T.H.. The Medicinal Plants of the Philippines. Philadelphia: P. Blakiston’s Son & Co. 1901; p. 200
  7. Lai GF, Luo SD, Cao JX, Wang YF. [Studies on chemical constituents from roots of Mirabilis jalapa] Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2008;33(1):42-46.
  8. Wei Y, Yang XS, Hao XJ. [Studies on chemical constituents from the root of Mirablis jalapa] Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2003;28(12):1151-1152.
  9. Hembing. Ensiklopedia milenium tumbuhan berkhasiat obat Indonesia. Jakarta: Prestasi Insan Indonesia, 2000; p. 90 – 93
  10. Vardhana R. Direct uses of medicinal plants and their identification. New Delhi: Sarup & Sons, 2008; p. 231
  11. Walker CI, Trevisan G, Rossato MF et al. Antinociceptive activity of Mirabilis jalapa in mice. J Ethnopharmacol. 2008;120(2):169-175.
  12. Aoki K, Cortés AR, Ramírez Mdel C, Gómez-Hernández M, López-Muñoz FJ. Pharmacological study of antispasmodic activity of Mirabilis jalapa Linn flowers. J Ethnopharmacol. 2008;116(1):96-101.
  13. Kowalska J, Pszczoła K, Wilimowska-Pelc A, et al. Trypsin inhibitors from the garden four o'clock (Mirabilis jalapa) and spinach (Spinacia oleracea) seeds: isolation, characterization and chemical synthesis. Phytochemistry. 2007;68(11):1487-1496.
  14. Yang SW, Ubillas R, McAlpine J, et al. Three new phenolic compounds from a manipulated plant cell culture, Mirabilis jalapa. J Nat Prod. 2001;64(3):313-317.
  15. Oakes AJ, Butcher JO. Poisonous and injurious ilants of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Washington DC: Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture, 1962; p. 74
  16. Fuller TC, McClintock E. Poisonous plants of California. Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 1986; p.198
  17. Tull DN. Edible & useful plants of Texas and the Southwest: A Practical Guide. Austin: University of Texas Press. 2003; p. 280
  18. Penn Veterinary Medicine. Poisonous Plants. Mirabilis jalapa. [homepage on the Internet]. c2017 [cited 2017 July 3]. Available from: [http://research.vet.upenn.edu/PoisonousPlantsofPA/Mirabilisjalapa/tabid/5462/Default.aspx] Accessed 11th November 2012