Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Four o’clock photographed at eleven o’clock

with 25 comments

Whitestem Four O'Clock Flower 3557

A little over a week ago you saw the leaf of a pearl milkweed vine that I photographed on the autumnally clear morning of October 29th when I drove down to San Marcos, a town about 30 miles south of Austin, and explored the Purgatory Creek Natural Area. Another thing I found there was abundant four o’clock flowers. These are in the genus Mirabilis, of which central Texas has several species. The one shown here, which I photographed at almost eleven o’clock, seems to be Mirabilis albida, known as whitestem four o’clock. That’s not only another first for this blog, but a first for me, too. Not at all a first was my posture: I lay on the ground so I could aim upward and isolate these relatively low flowers against the blue sky.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 19, 2012 at 6:17 AM

25 Responses

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  1. Great shot and I love the title! Oh…and you have good posture!


    November 19, 2012 at 8:24 AM

    • Thanks, David. You know how I enjoy playing around with words. I think you’re the only person who’s ever told me I have good posture.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 19, 2012 at 10:19 AM

  2. So you had to crawl around on the ground. But your efforts sure paid off and made a good photo.. Very pretty contrast.


    November 19, 2012 at 9:04 AM

    • Thanks you. I spend fair amount of time on the ground, something that puts my head (and therefore camera) close to where most flowers are.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 19, 2012 at 10:20 AM

      • Which is fine on a dry summer day, but otherwise – knees and elbows get pretty wet and dirty

        Andrzej Dąbrówka

        November 19, 2012 at 5:53 PM

        • That’s why I always carry a foam pad with me. It reduces the amount of dirt and mud that gets on my clothing and it keeps some prickly things from getting into my skin.

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 19, 2012 at 6:47 PM

          • I also have my ways in such cases, but still am feeling weird doing it in my garden. What do the neighbours think if they see me lying on the ground in snow or just after rain for long minutes!

            Andrzej Dąbrówka

            November 20, 2012 at 4:41 AM

            • How much more so for me, then, on those occasions when I lie down in public spaces! There have even been a few times when people who were passing by thought I’d collapsed and needed help.

              Steve Schwartzman

              November 20, 2012 at 4:57 AM

  3. This is a lovely version of the four o’clock. You’ve reminded me of the parents of a friend, who began growing four o’clocks in a garden spot that had been devoted to veggies and was very well fertilized. The plants ended up filling a space about 4′ square, and grew to nearly 5′. When they finally dug it out, the roots had formed a ball about the size of a large beach ball. Mirabile dictu!


    November 20, 2012 at 8:01 AM

    • I’d thought about using mirabile dictu as a title or elsewhere in the post, but I eventually decided against it. I wasn’t familiar with cultivated four o’clock, but I found this in the Encyclopedia Britannica:

      “four-o’clock, also called marvel-of-Peru, or beauty-of-the-night, (Mirabilis jalapa) ornamental perennial plant, of the family Nyctaginaceae, native to tropical America. Four-o’clock is a quick-growing species up to one metre (three feet) tall, with oval leaves on short leafstalks. The stems are swollen at the joints. The plant is called four-o’clock because its flowers, from white and yellow to shades of pink and red, sometimes streaked and mottled, open in late afternoon (and close by morning). There are 45 species in the Mirabilis genus of herbs.”

      I noticed the “quick-growing” that corresponds to your experience.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 20, 2012 at 1:35 PM

  4. Beautiful shot and colours again. Almost looks HDR

    Brian Comeau

    November 21, 2012 at 8:13 PM

    • Thanks, Brian. I experimented briefly with HDR a few years ago but have almost never tried it again. Maybe one of these days. In the meantime, I keep finding enough challenges with single photos.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 21, 2012 at 8:23 PM

  5. Beautiful photo, the colours are so vibrant !

    Inspired and pretty

    November 22, 2012 at 10:19 PM

  6. […] the Michelangelo of milkweed, the Goya of goldeneye, the Rembrandt of rosinweed, the Miró of Mirabilis, the Titian of Tinantia, the Gauguin of Gaillardia, the Dalí of Datura, and the Monet of Monarda. […]

  7. A good blue and a beautiful flower !


    January 14, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    • My eyes see the color as violet rather than blue.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 14, 2013 at 1:58 PM

      • I spoke about the sky !


        January 14, 2013 at 2:04 PM

        • Ah, I see. I was influenced by discussions I’ve had over the last couple of years about local wildflowers called bluebonnets, bluebells, and blue sage, which I see as more violet than blue, in spite of their names.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 14, 2013 at 2:12 PM

  8. […] A couple of years ago I showed a species of Mirabilis that’s native in central Texas. […]

  9. […] scientific name of this wildflower teaches us that plants in the genus Mirabilis aren’t the only ones that people have called four o’clocks (even if some wildflowers in […]

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