Stems decumbent to erect, few and clambering through other vegetation to many, and then usually forming densely leafy and compact clumps, 1.5-15 dm, herbaceous, suffrutescent, or woody basally, glabrous, scabrous, puberulent, or villous, often glandular. Leaves spreading; petiole 0.1-2.2 cm; blade ovate, deltate-ovate, ovate-rhombic, subreniform, 1-4(-5.5) × 0.5-3.5(-5) cm, fleshy to slightly succulent, base cordate, truncate, or broadly obtuse, apex acute, obtuse, or rounded, surfaces glabrous, scabrous, puberulent, or villous, often glandular. Inflorescences widely cymose, or ± thyrsoid, involucres clustered, and nearly sessile at ends of branches, or solitary in axils on peduncles 3-12 mm; involucres 3-7 mm, lobes narrowly to broadly triangular, or triangular-lanceolate, base 30-50% of height. Flowers 1(-2) per involucre; perianth white, pink, or shades of purple, 1-1.6 cm. Fruits gray, dark brown, or nearly black, often mottled with dark brown or black, with or without 10 pale, diffuse lines, ovoid, obovoid, or nearly spheric, 3-5.5 mm, smooth or moderately rugose. Mirabilis laevis is a complex of poorly differentiated forms that differ to a greater or lesser extent primarily by perianth color, pubescence, and habit, characteristics that show imperfect geographic consistency. In general, white-flowered plants occur in arid areas east of the southern California mountains, and magenta-flowered plants occur west of the mountains; in the arid regions viscid-pubescent plants occur to the south, less viscid plants to the north. Sympatry and intergradation are frequent in the southern Sierra Nevada, southward along the east side of the southern California mountains, and on the northern portion of the peninsula of Baja California. The variety laevis, which is glabrous or glabrate, is restricted to the immediate coast and islands in the vicinity of Bahía Magdalena in Baja California Sur.
Wiggins 1964, FNA 2003, Kearney and Peebles 1969
Duration: Perennial Nativity: Native Lifeform: Forb/Herb General: Decumbent to erect perennial, few and clambering through other vegetation to many, usually forming densely leafy and compact clumps, 1.5-15 dm long, herbaceous to suffrutescent, glabrous, scabrous, puberulent or villous, often glandular. Leaves: Opposite, petiole 0.1-2.2 cm, blade ovate, deltate-ovate, ovate-rhombic, subreniform 1-4 cm long by 0.5-3.5 cm wide, fleshy or slightly succulent, cordate base, truncate, or broadly obtuse, apex acute, obtuse or rounded. Flowers: Cymose, clustered at end of branches or arranged on short, leafy terminal branchlets, sessile or in axils on peduncles 3-12 mm, involucres 3-7 mm, lobes narrowly to broadly triangular; flowers 1-2 per involucre, perianth white, pink, or shades of purple, 1-1.6 cm. Fruits: Anthocarp gray, dark brown, or nearly black, with or without 10 pale, diffuse lines, ovoid, obovoid to nearly spheric, 3-5.5 mm. Ecology: Found on arroyo banks, rocky slopes, and brushlands from 500-7,000 ft (152-2134 m); flowers November-March. Notes: There are two varieties thought to be in Arizona: var. villosa and var. retrorsa. Both can be distinguished by usually having a white perianth, triangular involucre lobes and a broad cyme. Var. villosa is viscid-puberulent to viscid-villous, while var. retrorsa is retrorse-puberulent. Ethnobotany: Used as a purgative and for eruptive fevers, hard to say if there is more given the systematic changes. Etymology: Mirabilis is Latin for miraculous or wonderful, while laevis means smooth, free from hairs or roughness. Synonyms: Many, including some varieties of M. bigelovii and M. california See Tropocos. Editor: SBuckley, 2010