February 11, 2004

Purple Oxalis -- Oxalis regnellii 'Atropurpurea'

Going by whatever name you know it as, this is truly a wonderful plant. The Oxalis Genius has over 800 recognized species throughout the world. So considering the length of this article and TIME I will only talk about one, the Purple Leaf Oxalis. oxalis.jpgThis particular species is native in Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay. It was first cultivated in the United States in 1930.

I have admired this plant for a long time. The beautiful purple color in the leaves is hard to beat. The long stems for the ground are topped with a cluster of three deltoid-shaped leaflets, which are one and a half inches long. The leaflets fold at the mid-vein and resemble purple butterflies.

My Mother had given a friend of hers a couple of these plants two years ago. During the second year the friend forgot that they were in a particular bed and proceeded to till up the flowerbed. The next year the only thing in that flowerbed was Purple Oxalis all over the place. This friend gave me countless quantities of this wonderful plant and I have traded and sold it all over Texas. I still have a lot left from my adventures and I could receive even more this year!

The root or rhizome is an interesting thing in itself. It looks like a fat zipper that is zipped up. It does not matter if you plant the rhizome straight up or lay it down, it will flourish either way.

The book on this plant is part-shade (at least protection from the hot afternoon sun), rich moist sandy soil, zone 7-11, height 6"-10" spreading to 12" spacing 9"-12". The winter's cold will knock it down to the ground, but don't worry, it will be back in the spring. This species does not have freestanding flowers, which tends to create a droopy look in certain instances. However, the plant's beautiful white blooms create a colorful look for any garden. It flowers best in the spring and then occasionally through the summer.

It's TOUGH, PERSISTENT, and RESILIENT. This is another true Texas tough perennial for bordering or edging flowerbeds.

Posted by angie at February 11, 2004 10:58 PM