Paradisi in Sole Paradisus Terrestris, pp. 364-366 (1629)
John Parkinson


Mirabilis Peruviana. The Mervaile of Peru.

THis plant yeeldeth in our Gardens five or sixe scverall varieties of beautifull flowers, as pure white, pure yellow, pure red, white and red spotted, and red and yellow spotted. But besides these, I have had some other sorts, among which was one, of a pale purple or peach colour: all which, comming unto mee out of Spaine with many other, seedes in an unkindly yeare (an early winter following a cold summer) perished with mee; yet I plainely might discerne by their leaves, and manner of growing, to be divers from them that we now have and keepe. I shall need therefore (because the chiefest difference consisteth almost in the flowers) to give only one description of the plant, and therein shew the varieties as is before declared.

Admirabilis. The Mervaile of the World.

The stalke of this mervellous plant is great and thick, bigger then any mans thumbe, bunched out or swelling at every ioynt, in some the stalkes will bee of a faire greene colour, and those will bring white, or white and red flowers: in others they will bee reddish, and more at the ioynts, and those give red flowers; and in some of a darker greene colour, which give yellow flowers; the stalkes and ioynts of those that will give red and yellow flowers, spotted, are somewhat brownish, but not so red as those that give wholly red flowers: upon these stalkes that spread into many branches, doe grow at the ioynts upon severall footestalkes, faire greene leaves, broad at the stalke, and pointed at the end: at the ioynts likewise toward the upper part of the branches; at the foote of the leaves, come forth severall flowers upon short foote stalkes, every one being small, long and hollow from the bottome to the brimme, which is broade spread open, and round, and consist but of one leafe without division, like unto a Bell flower, but not cornered at all: which flowers, as l said, are of divers colours, and diversly marked and spotted, some being wholly white, without any spot in them for the most part, throughall the flowers of the plant; so likewise some being yellow, and some wholly red; some plants againe being mixed and spotted, so variably either white and red, or purple, (except here and there some may chance to be wholly white, or red or purple among the rest) or red and yellow through the whole plant, (except as before some may chance in this kind to be eyther wholly red, or wholly yellow) that you shall hardly finde two or three flowers in a hundred, that will bee alike spotted and marked, without some diversitie, and so likewise every day, as long as they blow, which is untill the winters, or rather autumnes cold blades do stay their willing pronenesse to flower: And I have often also observed, that one side of a plant will give fairer varieties then another, which is most commonly the Easterne, as the more temperate and shadowie side. All these flowers doe open for the most part, in the evening, or in the night time, and so stand blowne open, untill the next mornings sun beginne to grow warme upon them, which then close themselves together, all the brims of the flowers shrinking into the middle of the long necke, much like unto the blew Bindeweede, which in a manner doth so close up at the sunnes warme heate: or else if the day be temperate and mildc, without any sunne shining upon them, the flowers will not close up for the most part of that day, or untill toward night: after the flowers are pad, come severall seedes, that is, but one at a place as the flowers flood before, of the bignesse (sometimes) of small pease, but not so round, sanding within the greene huskes, wherein the flowers stood before, being a little flat at the toppe, like a crowne or head, and round where it is fastened in the cup, of a blacke colour when it is ripe, but else greene all the while it groweth on the stalke, and being ripe is soone shaken downe with the wind, or any other light shaking: the roote is long and round, greater at the head, and smaller downwards to the end, like unto a Reddish, spreading into two or three, or more branches, blackish on the outside and whitish within. These rootes I have often preserved by art a winter, two or three (for they will perish if they be left out in the garden, unlesse it be under a house side) because many times, they care not falling out kindely, the plants give not ripe seede, and so we should be to seeke both of seede to sow, and of rootes to set, if this or the like art to keep them, were not used; which is in this manner: Within a while after the first frosts have taken the plants, that the leaves wither and fall, digge up the rootes whole, and lay them in a dry place for three or foure dayes, that the superfluous moysture on the outside, may be spent and dryed, which done, wrap them up severally in two or three browne papers, and lay them by in a boxe, chest or tub, in some convenient place of the house all the winter time, where no winde or moist ayre may come unto them; ind thus you shall have these rootes to spring a fresh the next yeare, if you plant them in the beginning of March, as l have diffidently tryed. But some have tryed to put them up into a barrell or firkin of sand, or ashes,which is also good if the sand and ashes be thorough dry, but if it bee any thing moist, or if they give againe in the winter, as it is usuall, they have found the moisture of the rootes, or of the sand, or both, to putrefie the rootes, that they have beene nothing worth, when they have taken them forth. Take this note also for the sowing of yours, that if you would have variable flowers, and not all of one colour, you must choose out such flowers as be variable while they grow, that you may have the seede of them: for if the flowers bee of one entire colour, you shall have for the most part from those seedes, plants that will bring flowers all of that colour, whether it be white, red or yellow.

The Place.

These plants grow naturally in the West lndies, where there is a perpetuall summer, or at the least no cold frosty winters, from whence the seede hath been sent into these parts of Europe, and are dispersed into every garden almost of note.

The Time.

These plants flower from the end of Iuly sometimes, or August, untill the frosts, and cold ayres of the evenings in October, pull them down, and in the meane time the seed is ripe.

The Names.

Wee have not received the seedes of this plant under any other name, then Mirabilis Peruviana, or Admirabilis planta. In English wee call them, The mervaile of Peru, or the mervaile of the world: yet some Authors have called it Gelseminum, or Iasminim rubrum, & Indicum: Bauhinus Solanum Mexiocanum flore magno.

The Vertues.

We have not knowne any use hereof in Physicke.

Admirabilis peruäna. Clus. hist. 2. p.87.

Mirabilis Biblio