Colorado Four O’clock is one of my prettiest wildflowers. It usually starts by July, but it’s bloom season is tied to my summer monsoons, which were late this year.
This is not my biggest or prettiest Colorado Four O’clock, but it is the first to bloom this year. I have collected seed all four years and have dozens of these now, all children one against my front fence. When it starts blooming, I will post a photo, it is my oldest and largest one.
The purple petals are not flowers, but sepals fused together. It is generally pollinated by our hawkmoths.
I have seen conflicting information on Four O’clock’s cold hardiness, but guess zones 4-8/10. Mine are in zone 5/6. It will survive 10 to 30 inches of rain per year, give it good drainage. The one in the photo is on about a 70 degree slope at 12 inches annual rainfall. Not a high maintenance plant.
I would not call it an edible, although First Americans ground roots into flour and added it to their bread. It is an appetite suppressant and was used during lean times to reduce hunger.
It does have a number of medicinal uses, mostly from tthe root but also the seed and leaves.
The root is an entheogen, and causes visions. The root is chewed and the liquid swallowed.
The root powder is also antiviral and antifungal, and used to ttreat herpes, influenza, upper respiratory infections, hepatitis, yeast and candida. I did not find dosages, but root infusions and tinctures were mentioned.
A root decoction can be used to treat wounds and skin diseases, and was used on leprosy.
Colorado Four O’clock is a fairly strong medicinal herb that I don’t suggest using without experienced direction. The seeds, at least, can cause abortion so pregnant women should avoid this plant.
While outside I dug another bucket of Iris and will prepare more Orris Root for drying. I will dig one of the Colorado Four O’clock plants and dry the root for my pharmacopeia.