Advanced Search Filters

Plant Type
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
Sunset Zone
Sun Exposure
Soil Moisture
Water Requirement

OXALIS spiralis ssp. vulcanicola

Image of Oxalis spiralis ssp. vulcanicola

James Burghardt



Botanical Name

OXALIS spiralis ssp. vulcanicola

Plant Common Name

Velvet Oxalis, Volcanic Sorrel

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

Always recognized, the red-tinted shamrock-like leaves of the volcanic sorrel are a colorful background for the small yellow flowers in spring and early summer. Not invasively weedy like many other bulb-growing members of Oxalis, this species spreads it sprawling stems to create a low, mounding mat. It grows from small swollen tubers (underground storage stems).

Tolerant of cool frosty winters when it will be dormant, the rusty red to deep burgundy green leaves emerge in spring along the elongating stems that are dark red or violet. In the intesifying light and warmth of mid-spring to early summer, depending on climate, volcanic sorrel bears many small yellow flowers with tiny golden-orange throats that attract small butterflies. Seasonal drought or excessive winter cold will cause leaf drop, but it is possible for this plant to remain nearly evergreen in mild climate regions.

Grow volcanic sorrel in partial sun to partial shade in a fertile, organic-rich, moist but well-draining soil that is not highly alkaline in pH. Its sprawling habit allows it to be a nice woodland groundcover or to cloak the soil underneath shrubs or perennials in a mixed border. It can spill over the edges of containers or hanging baskets, too. Indoors it will be a pleasant houseplant if given bright light and warmth but watered less after flowering ends and weaker winter sunlight is the norm.

Variation in leaf color can be seen in the cultivars this subspecies, all being very ornamental. Bright chartreuse and yellowed foliage is found on 'Aureus'. Dark purple, nearly black leaves are a forte of 'Zinfandel' and bright yellow-green and coppery rust-scarlet blushes make 'Molten Lava' a dynamic selection for a woodland groundcover.


  • AHS Heat Zone

    8 - 4

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    8 - 10

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Bulb or Corm or Tuber

  • Sun Exposure

    Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    6"-10" / 15.2cm - 25.4cm

  • Width

    18"-24" / 45.7cm - 61.0cm

  • Bloom Time

    Spring, Late Spring, Early Summer

  • Native To

    South America

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate


  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit


  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest


  • Flower Color

    Yellow, Orange, Gold

  • Flower Color Modifier


  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Burgundy, Copper

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Burgundy, Dark Red, Copper

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Burgundy, Dark Red, Copper

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Burgundy, Dark Red, Copper

  • Fragrant Flowers


  • Fragrant Fruit


  • Fragrant Foliage


  • Bark or Stem Fragrant


  • Flower Petal Number


  • Repeat Bloomer


  • Showy Fruit


  • Edible Fruit


  • Showy Foliage


  • Foliage Texture


  • Foliage Sheen


  • Evergreen


  • Showy Bark


Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Feature Plant, Groundcover, Hanging Basket, Houseplant, Mixed Border

  • Sharp or Has Thorns


  • Invasive


  • Attracts


  • Self-Sowing