Where Do They Get These Names? Wild Four O’clock: July 2021

There is always something interesting to see at the bottom of the Bluffs just east of Birchmount Rd.


I will identify it at the end of the post.

This morning I found a plant which puzzled me at first.

Are there 5 petals or is this an “irregular” flower?

The egg-shaped opposite leaves were a clue.

Eventually I remembered seeing it some years ago while prowling about in alleys looking at weeds in the Main St. / Danforth area. This is Wild Four-O’clock (Mirabilis nyctaginea).

Four-o’-clock is native to the central section of North America, and it occurs elsewhere as an introduced including parts of Europe. Its exact native range is obscure, and it is often weedy throughout its range, spreading into disturbed habitat easily.

It is in the same family as the Four O’clock plant (also called the Marvel of Peru) Mirabilis jalapa.

The flowers usually open from late afternoon or at dusk (namely between 4 and 8 o’clock), giving rise to its common name.

I also came across a lovely and large Green Darner.

Green Darner
Green Darner

The name comes from the insect’s resemblance to a darning needle.

More botany:

Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia)
Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara)
Yarrow (Achillea millefolia)
Apple (Malus)
Creeping Bellflower (Campanula rapunculoides)
fly on Hedge Parsley
Indian Mustard (Brassica juncea)
Crown Vetch (Securigera varia)
various insects on Meadowsweet (Spirea alba)
Early Goldenrod (Solidago juncea)
Chicory (Cichorium intybus) with hoverfly
various insects on Wild-parsnip
Tansy (Tanecetum vulgare)
Chicory (Cichorium intybus)
Mullein (Verbascum thapsis)
Canada Thistle (Cirsium pratense)
False Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)
St. John’s-wort (Hypericum perforatum)
Viper’s Bugloss (Echium vulgare)
Teasle (Dipsacus fullonum)
Honeysuckle (Lonicera)
Alternate-leaved Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia)
Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron rydbergii)
Brown-lipped Snail on Mugwort
White Campion (Silene latifolia)
White Campion (Silene latifolia)


Smaller and slimmer than a pigeon, this is a Mourning Dove.

Mourning Dove


O summer day, surpassing fair,
With hints of heaven in earth and air.               – Eben Eugene Rexford (1848–1916) 

Miles Hearn

4 thoughts on “Where Do They Get These Names? Wild Four O’clock: July 2021

  1. Lisa Volkov

    Ha! You got me, with that “mystery bird”! And here I was, all ready to say, “Very funny, Miles, and thanks for the laugh of the day” !
    Good one. So is the name of that plant! One advantage of such names, for me, is that I am more likely to remember them (not the Latin version, however). Wonderful botany. But what a shame (and danger) that the magnificent Bluffs continue to erode. Thanks, Miles!

  2. Pina

    Holy! I finally got a bird right. Lol

    Thank you for all your wonderful posts. Entertaining, Interesting, educational and beautifully done!!
    And much appreciated!


  3. rosemarie fischer

    very nice pics, I’m starting to get some of the plant names,and was able to tell the difference between Yarrow and Queen Anne’s lace! a big deal for me…..haha
    many thanks Miles for keeping us in the loop…….


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