No petals; purple calyx with 5 cleft sepals, 5 stamens, 1 pink-tipped pistil. UCI Ecological Preserve, Irvine, CA. 2-27-09. © Joan Avise.

Wishbone bush

Mirabilis laevis var. crassifolia

So named for the resemblance of the forked branches to the wishbone of poultry.  A much branched low perennial bush, very common on dry slopes and stony washes in coastal sage scrub.  As with other members of this family, there are no true petals but a petal-like purplish calyx subtended by greenish bracts.  The seeds
and root are poisonous and may cause dermatitis if handled. 


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Can form dense mats on dry slopes Crystal Cove State Beach, Laguna Beach, CA. 3-21-09. © Joan Avise.

Repeated forking of branches Nix Nature Center, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, Laguna Beach., CA.3-28-09. © Joan Avise.

Heart-shaped opposite leaves; prostrate form. UCI Ecological Preserve, Irvine, CA. 5-5-11. © Joan Avise.

Early flower buds Santiago Oaks Regional Park, Orange, CA. 3-02-08. © Joan Avise.