Marvel Of Peru (Mirabilis jalapa)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Marvel Of Peru
Mirabilis jalapa
Nyctaginaceae

The powdered seed is used as a cosmetic[46, 61].

  • Medicinal Use

    The root is aphrodisiac, diuretic and purgative. It is used in the treatment of dropsy[46, 61, 154, 218, 240]. A paste of the root is applied as a poultice to treat scabies and muscular swellings[272]. The juice of the root is used in the treatment of diarrhoea, indigestion and fevers[272]. The powdered root, mixed with corn flour (Zea mays) is baked and used in the treatment of menstrual disorders[272].

    The leaves are diuretic[272]. They are used to reduce inflammation[240]. A decoction of them is used to treat abscesses[218]. The leaf juice is used to treat wounds[218].

  • Edible Use

    Tender young leaves – cooked as a vegetable[105, 183, 272]. An emergency food, only eaten when all else fails[177].

    An edible crimson dye is obtained from the flowers[46, 61, 105, 177]. It is used for colouring cakes and jellies[183].

    The seed is crushed and used as a pepper substitute[105, 177, 183].

  • Cautionary Notes

    The seeds and the rots are reported to cause digestive disturbances[274].

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – sow spring in a greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in early summer, after the last expected frosts. The seed remains viable for several years[196]. Division in spring as the plant comes into growth[200].
Succeeds in almost any ordinary garden soil[1]. Prefers a fertile well-drained soil in full sun or part day shade[200]. This species is not very hardy in Britain. The top growth is cut back by frost but the tuber survives the winter outdoors if the temperature does not fall much below -5¡c, a good mulch would be beneficial[200]. Tubers can be lifted and stored over winter in a cool frost free place in the same way that dahlia tubers are stored[1, 200]. The marvel of Peru is usually grown as a half-hardy annual in temperate zones, it flowers freely in its first year[200]. Plants also self-sow freely in warmer areas (these seedlings can be easily transplanted) and they can become a weed in such situations due to their deep rooting habit[200]. This species was cultivated as a medicinal plant by the Aztecs prior to the Spanish conqust[274]. The flowers are sweetly scented and do not open until the afternoon[233]. The young growth is particularly susceptible to aphis infestation[200]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[233].
S. America – Peru. Naturalized in France and possibly other places in Europe.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.