Oxalis triangularis (oks-AL-iss, try-an-gew-LAIR-iss), also called false shamrock, is an edible plant of the wood sorrel family – the Oxalidaceae.
The perennial plant is indigenous to many regions in Southern South America.
The plant specifically hails from Brazil where St. Patrick – a Roman-British missionary – used a similar plant to teach the Christian doctrine of the Trinity to Irish.
The genus word “oxalis” refers to oxalic acid in the plant’s leaf while “triangularis” refers to the triangular shape of the leaf.
The fancy and intriguing perennial has a few common names including:
- Purple shamrock
- False shamrock
- Wood sorrel
Check out the all green variety known as the Shamrock plant Oxalis regnellii.
Oxalis Triangularis Plant Care
Size and Growth
Oxalis triangularis is a stunning bulb-like low-maintenance plant with a maximum height of 1’ foot tall.
Purple shamrock boasts deep purple foliage, featuring a three-leaved and -cornered plant.
Supremely vivid and eye-catching, these triangular leaves appear like a bunch of tiny purple butterflies joined together for a memorable impact.
Flowering and Fragrance
In the blooming season, false shamrock produces white flowers with hints of purple and pale pink hues.
These flowers are typically formed in small clusters and last for many weeks.
There is no specific blooming time, but the flowers usually come in their full form in summer.
Light and Temperature
Oxalis triangularis performs well in bright light for a few hours a day.
However, the plant works just fine in part sun too but light shade is preferred.
Make sure not to provide it with full, direct sunlight as excessive light damages the pretty leaves.
When provided with an ideal amount of light, the leaves thrive and open wide.
Purple shamrock enjoys cool indoor spots.
The leaves tend to suffer in warm spaces, where the temperature gets above 75° degrees Fahrenheit (24° C).
The USDA hardiness zone of the purple plant is 6.
Watering and Feeding
Purple shamrock plants have medium water requirements.
They do best with infrequent watering in cool, moist areas.
Water the soil once every two weeks and check before watering again.
The top inch of the soil should be dry.
However, the shamrock plant needs regular watering when placed in an overly-bright place as excessive heat dries out the plant and hinders its development.
If the foliage begins to wilt stop watering and place the plant in a corner for a few weeks until you see new leaves emerge.
The indoor houseplant prefers irregular feeding.
Apply an all-purpose fertilizer once a couple of months to nourish the plant with supplemental nutrients.
Soil and Transplanting
Oxalis triangularis likes rich indoor potting mix. The soil needs to be well-drained so it is properly aerated.
Make sure there is no excess or standing water. Overly-moist soil leads to problems with the roots such as fibrous root rot or oxalis triangularis bulb rot.
Transplant the false shamrock plant every 1 or two years, and the best time to repot is during the dormancy period.
Use a pot with a size bigger and water the soil well in the growing season.
Grooming and Maintenance
- This indoor houseplant is easy to maintain and take care of.
- Avoid placing full sun to ensure healthy and happy foliage.
- Place the plant on the windowsill where it receives sunny morning light.
- During dormancy, the purple leaves may turn brown and die.
- Let the leaves dry out before trimming them.
- Move the plant to a cooler and darker area for a few weeks to let the plant rest.
- Cut back on watering and resume average watering needs once the dormant period is over.
How to Propagate Purple Shamrock
This plant grows from large tubers or corms, propagated by division.
Propagation of oxalis triangularis is best done at the end of the dormant period, usually two weeks after the dormancy.
The oxalis triangularis bulb needs to be separated from the container or pot.
Before doing so, let the foliage die naturally.
Avoid trimming it while it is still alive and colorful as cutting it off early will lead to weaker bulbs.
Plant the bulb offsets in a new pot and wait for new growth to occur.
Be patient as it may take time for new plants to sprout.
Purple Shamrock Pests and Diseases
Oxalis triangularis suffers from no serious pests or diseases for the most part of their life.
However, overwatering or soggy soil often leads to rotting.
The bulbs become weak and the entire plant dies back.
When the plant doesn’t receive enough light or there is too much humidity in the surrounding, the plant may suffer from rust and powdery mildew.
NOTE: Read our article answering the question – Are Shamrock Plants Toxic or Poisonous?
Oxalis Triangularis Uses
Oxalis triangularis is also kept indoors to enrich the space with natural beauty.
The indoor plant is employed as a ground cover to protect the area from soil erosion or drought.
The leaves of the shamrock plant are enjoyed raw and cooked in salads.
These edible herbs contain oxalic acid which offers a sour flavor to several food items.