Oxalis tetraphylla (Iron Cross, Lucky Clover, Good Luck Plant)

Oxalis tetraphylla (Iron Cross) after I brought it home on 5-5-18, #435-12.

Iron Cross, Lucky Clover, Good Luck Plant

Oxalis tetraphylla

(Oxalis tetraphylla var. tetraphylla)

oks-AL-iss   tet-ruh-FIL-uh

Synonyms of Oxalis tetraphylla (3) (Updated on 1-4-23 from Plants of the World Online): Acetosella tetraphylla (Cav.) Kuntze (1891), Ionoxalis tetraphylla (Cav.) Rose (1906), Sassia tetraphylla (Cav.) Holub (1998)
Synonyms of Oxalis tatraphylla var tetraphylla (13)(Updated on 1-4-23 from POWO): Acetosella deppei (Lodd. ex Sweet) Kuntze (1891), Ionoxalis cuernavacana Rose (1906), Ionoxalis deppei (Lodd. ex Sweet) Small (1907), Ionoxalis divaricata Small (1907), Ionoxalis mucronata Rose ex Small (1907), Ionoxalis scopulorum Rose (1907), Oxalis cuernavacana (Rose) R.Knuth (1919), Oxalis deppei Lodd. ex Sweet (1831), Oxalis hayi R.Knuth (1919), Oxalis mucronata (Rose ex Small) R.Knuth (1919), Oxalis pseudotetraphylla R.Knuth (1919), Oxalis scopulorum (Rose) R.Knuth (1919), Oxalis tlalpamensis R.Knuth (1919)

Oxalis tetraphylla Cav. is the 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.

Accepted intraspecific names of Oxalis tetraphylla (3)(Updated on 1-4-23 from POWO): Oxalis tetraphylla var. guerreroensis Denton, Oxalis tetraphylla var. mexicana Dento, *Oxalis tetraphylla var. tetraphylla (autonym). *When an intraspecific taxon is named, an autonym (“type-specimen”) is automatically generated that is closest to the (original) species. Usually, all have their own list of synonyms, but in this case, only the species and autonym have synonyms. 

The genus, Oxalis L., was named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the first volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.

As of 1-4-23 when this page was last updated, Plants of the World Online list 560 accepted species of Oxalis. It is a member of the plant family Oxalidaceae with five genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO.


Oxalis tetraphylla from the top on 5-5-18, #435-13.

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.

Oxalis tetraphylla on 5-17-18, #443-69.

I believe Iron Cross is one of the common names for Oxalis tetraphylla although many websites have it written as a cultivar name. 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.

Family: Oxalidaceae.
Origin: Mexico.
Zones: USDA Zones 8a-10b (10 to 35° F).
Size: 6-12”.
Light: Sun to part shade.
Soil: Well-draining.
Water: Average.

Oxalis tetraphylla is 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.

Oxalis tetraphylla on 7-29-18, #487-72.

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.

Oxalis tetraphylla on 10-10-18, #519-56.

I had to bring the potted plants inside on October 10 in 2018 because temps were getting cooler and an “F” was in the forecast. The Oxalis tetraphylla did very well over the summer of 2018. I think it could have used a little more sun. If you don’t give them enough water they will lay down. GEEZ!


Oxalis tetraphylla on 6-16-19, #591-36.

I have several pots of Oxalis and some go dormant and some do not. The Oxalis tetraphylla is definitely one that does. It finally started coming up again after I moved the plants outside in May 2019…

I was fairly busy in 2019, so I didn’t take many photos of some of the plants…


Oxalis tetraphylla on 6-7-20, #708-10.

Well, the Oxalis tetraphylla survived going dormant again over the winter and is now looking good for 2020. I brought home another one from Wagler’s because I wasn’t sure if the old one was going to come up. It finally did then I put them all in the same pot.

Oxalis tetraphylla on 10-15-20, #747-85.


Oxalis tetraphylla on 5-22-21, #797-1.

The Oxalis tetraphylla returned again in 2021.

Oxalis tetraphylla in a friend’s planter on 8-1-21, #822-21.

I do the planters at a friend’s house and I thought a Oxalis tetraphylla would do good in this planter by his front porch. He takes much better care of his planters than I do… 🙂

Unfortunately, the Oxalis tetraphylla didn’t come up in 2022. Maybe I can find another one (or two) to bring home at some point.

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.

The Pacific Bulb Society has a great write-up about the Oxalis genus you can click on HERE to read. They also have information on several species which you can find HERE. This is a great website with a LOT of information on many genera and species of plants. Their information can sometimes be a little outdated because some of the species (ETC.) they talk about are synonyms now…


2 comments on “Oxalis tetraphylla (Iron Cross, Lucky Clover, Good Luck Plant)

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi, calling from England. I have this growing in my garden and was told it is known as Oxalis Maltese Cross. I have not investigated to see whether it is corm, tuberose or other. jOHN

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello John! The Maltese Cross is usually the common name of Lychnis chalcedonica. I did run across a forum where someone wanted to know the name of a plant growing in their garden that came in a pot of lilies. Someone identified the plant as Maltese Cross but that is the only place I have ever seen that name associated with any species of Oxalis. Plants of the World Online by Kew currently lists 545 accepted species of Oxalis and are members of the Wood Sorrel family Oxalidaceae. People from all over the world pass along different common names, so maybe where you are from some gardeners have passed along the name Maltese Cross. I forgot to write it in, but the Oxalis tetraphylla is also called the Four-Leaved Pink Sorrel or Four-Leaved Sorrel. I guess I need to add that, huh? Some people don’t like the Sorrels because some species can get a bit carried away.

      Many species. like this one, do have bulbs and do multiply underground. This is the first year I have had the Oxalis tetraphylla, so I am anxious to see if they will go dormant and return in the spring in their pot. Where I live, they won’t survive the winter in the ground.

      Thanks for the comment and I am very glad to hear from you.


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