Family NyctaginaceaeA curious aspect of this plant is that flowers of different colors can be found simultaneously on the same plant. Different color variation in the flower and different color flowers in same plant. Variegated flower on a four o'clock plant. Naturally occurring color variation on four o'clock flowers.
The flowers are used in food colouring. The leaves may be eaten cooked as well, but only as an emergency food.
An edible crimson dye is obtained from the flowers to colour cakes and jellies.
In herbal medicine, parts of the plant may be used as a diuretic, purgative, and for vulnerary (wound healing) purposes. The root is believed an aphrodisiac as well as diuretic and purgative. It is used in the treatment of dropsy.
The leaves are used to reduce inflammation. A decoction of them (mashing and boiling) is used to treat abscesses. Leaf juice may be used to treat wounds.
Powdered, the seed of some varieities is used as a cosmetic and a dye. The seeds are considered poisonous.
Additionally, an individual flower can be splashed with different colors. Another interesting point is a color-changing phenomenon. For example, in the yellow variety, as the plant matures, it can display flowers that gradually change to a dark pink color. Similarly white flowers can change to light violet.
Additional information supplied by MAJ on iSpot: “I have seen these in red, yellow and a combination of red and yellow. They grow from bulbs or tubers and are native to Peru, flowering in late summer, opening up in late afternoon - hence the common name.”