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Last Update 06/03/08
Plant of the Month

Oxalis triangularis ssp. papilionacea

 Purple Shamrock, Lucky Shamrock

Oxalis triangularis leaves are purple with deep rose patterning, green base color and a triangular shape. The light pink-tinged white flowers are not showy, but add a counterpoint to the purplish-green trigonometry of this geometric plant.

Oxalis triangularis has attractive purple leaves.. Click Image to Enlarge
Oxalis triangularis has attractive purple leaves.
Click Image to Enlarge


Purple Shamrock makes an attractive seasonal groundcover.. Click Image to Enlarge
Purple Shamrock makes an attractive seasonal groundcover.
Click Image to Enlarge

Oxalis triangularis light pink-white flowers are not showy.. Click Image to Enlarge
Oxalis triangularis light pink-white flowers are not showy.
Click Image to Enlarge

The Myth of the Shamrock

"According to Irish legend, the druids in Ireland looked at the shamrock as a sacred plant because its leaves formed a triad. Three was a mystical number in the Celtic religion.

Then St Patrick, who was thought to be born in Wales, used the shamrock in the 5th century to teach people about Christianity as he traveled around Ireland.

He told people that each of the three leaves illustrated the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit of the Holy Trinity.

Old Irish manuscripts make no reference to this in connection with St Patrick, so this is likely to be pure mythology." The truth behind the shamrock

There is some debate as to whether the famous Shamrock of Ireland is a Trifolium or an Oxalis -- this is likely a debate that will not be settled anytime soon because as James Armitage of the Royal Horticultural Society stated in a BBC interview, "The shamrock is known from artwork and not from an exact botanical representation, so to fix a species to it is quite difficult."

Purple Shamrock Facts

Common Name:  Purple Shamrock, Lucky Shamrock

Botanical Name:  Oxalis triangularis ssp. papilionacea

Family:  Oxalidaceae

Plant Type:  Low growing clump-forming ground cover

Origin: Mexico

Zones: 8 - 11

Height:  6"

Rate of Growth: Medium

Salt Tolerance:

Soil Requirements:  Fertile

Water Requirements: Likes to be in moist, well drained soil

Nutritional Requirements: Balanced liquid fertilizer monthly

Light Requirements: Full sun to filtered shade

Form:  Clumping

Leaves:  4 inversely triangular leaflets, 3" long

Flowers:  Loose umbel-like cymes of 4-12 widely funnel shaped pink-tinged, white flowers


Pests:  Spider mites, leaf miners, fungal leaf spot

Uses:  Low growing clump-forming ground cover -- mix Oxalis triangularis with other plants as it has dormant periods.

Bad Habits: 

Cost:  $ -- reasonable

Propagation:   Bulbs


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