New Mexico Wildflowers: Four O'Clock Family



Flowers are organized alphabetically by genus and species. Hover over a photo series to control the images.

Sand Verbena (Abronia)

My June 2019 photos show the individual flowers before they uncurl into trumpet-shaped blossoms. Based on other online photos, people often encounter the flower clusters in the uncurled state. A July 2019 photo shows the flowers starting to uncurl. In September of that year, I found the fully uncurled flowers. I'll round out the gallery with a few photos from April 2023.


Snowball sand verbena (aka heart's-delight, Abronia fragrans) and fragrant white sand verbena (Abronia elliptica)  apparently can't be told apart without looking at their fruit. For that reason, I'll leave my ID at the genus level.


Windmills, Trailing Four O'Clock (Allionia)

The two species of Allionia in New Mexico are impossible to distinguish during casual encounters. The inflorescence looks like a single flower with three petals, but it's a triple flower.


Scarlet Spiderling (Boerhavia coccinea)

My reasons for classifying these plants as Scarlet Spiderling, as opposed to the similar Red Spiderling (Boerhavia diffusa) include the sticky stems below the flowers and the leaves with reddish edges. Neither species is supposed to be present in Albuquerque but as the planet warms, species are shifting their ranges.


Creeping Spiderling (Boerhavia torreyana)


White Four O'Clock (Mirabilis albida)

Apparently the flowers can be white, hence the common name.


Narrow-Leaf Four O'Clock (Mirabilis linearis)

Note the long, very narrow leaves that grow in opposite pairs. The flowers can be light pink rather than purple. Sets of three flowers sit in five-part green involucres (vaguely flower-like cups), which can be purple-tinged.


In June 2021 I encountered narrow-leaf four o'clock growing in an empty lot in Albuquerque, somewhat out of place (around here it's usually found in the mountains). The flowers on these plants had already come and gone, each replaced by a small fruit (if pollination succeeded).


Mountain Four O'Clock (Mirabilis oblongifolia)