Iron Cross, Lucky Clover, Good Luck Plant
Oxalis tetraphylla Cav. is the correct and accepted scientific name for this species of Oxalis. It was named and described by Antonio José Cavanilles in Icon et Descriptiones Plantarum 3 in 1795.
The genus, Oxalis L., was described by Carl von Linnaeus in the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753. Plants of the World Online list 547 accepted species of Oxalis (as of when I updated this page on 3-2-19).
I found this unlabeled Oxalis tetraphylla at Wagler’s Greenhouse on May 5, 2018. They had several Oxalis triangularis subsp. papilionaceae so I picked up two more pots of those, too. You just never know what you will find at the Amish greenhouses. Other people give Wagler’s plants then they share them with their customers. Usually, they just know the common name, or whatever name they were told.
It is possible this Oxalis tetraphylla is the cultivar ‘Iron Cross’ but there is no 100% sure way of knowing, even though it is most likely true. One of the common names is also Iron Cross because that name became what it was called by people passing it around. Other common names include Lucky Clover and Lucky Plant. The species growing in the wild are known as Four-Leaved Sorrel and Four-Leaved Pink Sorrel. Although they resemble clover, Oxalis are not true clovers.
They are closely related to Wood Sorrels, also in the Oxalis genera, and share the sharp lemony flavor. They are edible, but due to the oxalic acid content, eating too much can interfere with the absorption of certain nutrients in the body, especially calcium.
Zones: USDA Zones 8a-10b (10 to 35° F)
Light: Sun to part shade
Oxalis tetraphylla are perennial in USDA zones above 8a, but in cooler areas bulbs should be brought inside and stored for the winter. My Oxalis triangularis subsp. papilionaceae went dormant when temps got cooler before I took the plants inside for the winter. It came back up in the pot the first part of May after I put the pots back outside. Probably the Oxalis tetraphylla will do the same but only time will tell.
I had to relocate most of the potted plants to the front porch on July 4 because of a Japanese Beetle invasion. The potted plants had been on tables under a Chinese Elm tree which the beetles love. The whole environment changed.
Since I just acquired this plant in 2018 I don’t know much about it. They are also grown as a houseplant somehow. From what I have been reading, to grow them as a houseplant, you need to plant the bulbs in the fall in the house. Ummm… Then you take them outside in the spring and when cooler weather comes in October they go dormant? Or do you take them back inside before that? I have enough plants in the house over the winter, so I will probably just let them go dormant and store them in their pot in the basement. The reason growing them as a houseplant is a little weird is because in the wild they are dormant 5-6 months of the year.
Currently, on March 2, 2019, as I am updating this page, the Oxalis tetraphylla is happily dormant.
I will keep adding more photos and information as time goes by.
I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on “like” if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. The links take you directly to the genus and species of this plant.