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Mirabilis expansa - (Ruiz.&Pav.)Standl.

Common Name Mauka
Family Nyctaginaceae
USDA hardiness Coming soon
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Found at heights above 2700 metres in areas subject to strong winds and near constant chill[196].
Range S. America - Andes.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Moist Soil Full sun
Mirabilis expansa Mauka

Mirabilis expansa Mauka


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Physical Characteristics

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Mirabilis expansa is a PERENNIAL growing to 1 m (3ft 3in).
It is frost tender.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.



 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves;  Root.
Edible Uses: Drink.

Root - dried in the sun then boiled and eaten as a vegetable[183]. The root contains about 7% protein, a good quantity for a root crop[183] and up to 87% carbohydrate on a dry weight basis[196]. Roots can be the size of a man's forearm[196]. Some forms, especially those from Bolivia, contain an astringent substance that can burn the lips and mouth. When exposed to the sun these roots become sweet and are pleasant to eat[196]. Forms grown in Ecuador are not astringent[196]. Roots can be used in sweet or savoury dishes[196]. The cooking water makes an especially flavourful drink[183]. Leaves - raw. Added to salads[183, 196]. The leaves contain about 17% protein[196] (this is probably based on the dry weight[K].

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None known

Other Uses

None known

Cultivation details

Prefers a loose alluvial soil[196]. The plant might be intolerant of frost[196]. The top growth is certainly sensitive to frost, being cut back at temperatures below zero, but the root seems to be much hardier[K]. This species is occasionally cultivated for its edible root in the Andes, there are some named varieties. The plant is said to grow well in cold harsh environments with strong winds[183, 196]. Many factors such as the plant's daylength requirement, are unknown but the plant seems to have potential as a crop in temperate areas of the world[196]. In the harsh environments where the plant grows it can take up to 2 years for the crop to mature, though it is usually harvested after a year. Yields of 50 tonnes per hectare after 2 years are possible[196]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[233].


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Seed - sow spring in a greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in early summer, after the last expected frosts. The seed remains viable for several years[196]. Division. Dig up roots in the autumn, store in a cool moist frost-free place over the winter and replant in April.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Mirabilis jalapaMarvel Of Peru, Miracle Flower of Peru, Four O'Clock22
Mirabilis multifloraFour O'clock Plant, Colorado four o'clock12
Mirabilis nyctagineaWild Four O'clock Plant, Heartleaf four o'clock02
Viola mirabiliswonder violet31


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Readers comment

Owen Smith   Sat Sep 26 2009

You can read about my experiences of growing mauka successfully in the UK on my blog, Radix. This plant has definite potential.


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