This native perennial herb grows from southern California east to Colorado and south into Mexico. They are capable of growing on open ground or in rock crevices up 7500 ft above sea-level. The magenta flowers bloom after rains from April to September. Mirabilis means marvelous or wonderful in Latin, and the flowers reflect this meaning!
From prehistoric to modern times the Native Americans of the region have found the plant useful in medicine and as a dye plant. The Hopis used the roots of older plants to strengthen the blood of pregnant women. Teas were made to treat rheumatism, body swellings, colic, eye infections, muscle soreness, and indigestion.
The dried root was ground into flour and added to bread to reduce the appetite. The root was also chewed and the resulting juice swallowed by Medicine Men to obtain healing trances and visions.
Navajo weavers would boil the flowers to make a light brown or purple color for dying their sheep’s wool.