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OXALIS triangularis

Image of Oxalis triangularis

James H. Schutte

Family

Oxalidaceae

Botanical Name

OXALIS triangularis

Plant Common Name

False Shamrock

General Description

False shamrock is a tender perennial grown for its unusual triangular, three-lobed leaves of green or purple and charming stems of white or pale pink flowers. Native to southern Brazil, and perhaps adjacent northern Argentina, this little beauty is most often grown as a houseplant in temperate regions and a semi-evergreen groundcover where winters are mild.

The trifoliate leaves of this popular ornamental appear atop slender, succulent stems that rise from clusters of fleshy, scaly, stoloniferous and rhizomatous roots that form substantial clumps over time. Each leaflet is distinctively triangular and may come in shades of purple or green, sometimes with a darker triangle of color in the center. In summer, slender stems topped with umbels of delicate, five-petaled flowers appear. These may be white or pale lavender-pink and are insect pollinated. The fruit is an inconspicuous capsule.

This is a very easy foliage plant to cultivate and maintain. It grows best in partial sun or partial shade and requires fertile soil that’s evenly moist but well-drained. It will tolerate more shade but flowers less in lower light and has less intense leaf color. Some list it as being hardy to USDA Hardiness Zone 6, but it is more reliably hardy in zones 7 and 8. This is a wonderful low-maintenance container plant that delivers continuous color. It is also well-suited to shade or woodland gardens. The subspecies papilionacea has showier foliage with more purple and red tones.

Some advocate eating the leaves and tubers of this plant but this is not advisable as it is very high in oxalic acid, a substance that is toxic in high quantities. False shamrock is also considered an invasive plants in some parts of the world.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    9 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    7 - 10

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Bulb or Corm or Tuber

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    6"-12" / 15.2cm - 30.5cm

  • Width

    12"-24" / 30.5cm - 61.0cm

  • Bloom Time

    Indeterminate

  • Native To

    South America, Brazil

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White, Light Pink, Lavender

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Purple, Burgundy, Slate Gray

  • Foliage Color (Spring) Modifier

    Variegated

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Purple, Burgundy, Slate Gray

  • Foliage Color (Summer) Modifier

    Variegated

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Purple, Burgundy, Slate Gray

  • Foliage Color (Fall) Modifier

    Variegated

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green, Purple, Burgundy, Slate Gray

  • Foliage Color (Winter) Modifier

    Variegated

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Semi-Evergreen

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Groundcover, Houseplant, Mixed Border, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    Sometimes

  • Attracts

    Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    No