Oxalis triangularis (Green & Purple) (False Shamrock, Wood Sorrel, Love Plant, etc.)

Oxalis triangularis on 4-15-12, #86-55.

False Shamrock, Wood Sorrel, Love Plant, ETC…

Oxalis triangularis

oks-AL-iss try-an-gew-LAIR-iss

AND, now a synonym…

Oxalis triangularis subsp. papilionaceae

oks-AL-iss  try-an-gew-LAIR-iss  pa-pil-ee-uh-NAY-see-ee (eye)

Synonyms of Oxalis triangularis (23) (Updated on 1-4-23 from Plants of the World Online): Acetosella oxyptera (Progel) Kuntze, Acetosella papilionacea (Hoffmanns. ex Zucc.) Kuntze, Acetosella regnellii (Miq.) Kuntze, Acetosella triangularis (A.St.-Hil.) Kuntze, Acetosella yapacaniensis (K.Schum.) Kuntze, Oxalis catharinensis N.E.Br., Oxalis corumbaensis Hoehne, Oxalis delta Vell., Oxalis glaberrima Norlind, Oxalis oxyptera Progel, Oxalis palustris A.St.-Hil., Oxalis palustris var. major A.St.-Hil., Oxalis papilionacea Hoffmanns. ex Zucc., Oxalis regnellii Miq., Oxalis regnellii var. catharinensis (N.E.Br.) Norlind, Oxalis tenuiscaposa R.Knuth, Oxalis triangularis f. glabrifolia Chodat, Oxalis triangularis var. lepida Progel, Oxalis triangularis subsp. papilionacea (Hoffmanns. ex Zucc.) Lourteig, Oxalis truncata Willd. ex Zucc., Oxalis venturiana R.Knuth, Oxalis vernalis Fredr. ex Norlind, Oxalis yapacaniensis K.Schum.

Oxalis triangularis A.St.-Hil. is the accepted scientific name for this species of Oxalis. It was named and described by Auguste François César Prouvençal de Saint-Hilaire in Flora Brasiliae Meridionalis in 1825.

NOW considered a synonym, Oxalis triangularis subsp. papilionaceae (Hoffmanns. ex Zucc.) Lourteig was named and described as such by Alicia Lourteig in Flora Ilustrada Catarinense in 1983. The basionym, Oxalis papilionaceae Hoffmanns. ex Zucc., was named and described as such by Johann Centurius von Hoffmannsegg and Joseph Gerhard Zuccarini in Denkschriften der Königlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu München in 1825.

The synonym Oxalis regnellii is another name you may find this plant labeled at garden centers and online. It was named and described as Oxalis regnellii Miq. by Friedrich Anton Wilhelm Miquel in Linnaea in 1845. It was later decided it was a synonym of Oxalis triangularis.

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 lists 560 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 triangularis on 5-26-12, #94-18.

My first experience with the Oxalis triangularis was when a good friend and fellow plant collector, Walley Morse, of Greenville, Mississippi gave me a start. I believe he brought them in the spring of 2012 but possibly the fall of 2011. I believe my initial research led me to believe it was Oxalis regnellii var. triangularis.

Oxalis triangularis on 6-11-12, #99-41.

I sold the mansion I was living at in Leland, Mississippi, and moved back to the family farm in west-central Missouri in February 2013. I brought a lot of plants with me but I had to leave many behind. I did not bring any of the Oxalis triangularis with me…

<<<<THEN IN 2017…>>>>

Oxalis triangularis (syn. subsp. papilionaceae) on 7-9-17, #355-34.

When my sister and niece came down from the city to do some plant shopping on July 1, 2017, I took them first to Wagler’s Greenhouse. I found she had a few Amorphophallus and she said I could have one (we do a lot of plant trading). I picked out a pot that also had an Oxalis triangularis growing with it. You know, for so long I have been missing something since I came back to the farm… I missed my Oxalis triangularis from Mississippi and had often thought about them. I was very glad to now have another one.

Oxalis triangularis (syn. subsp. papilionaceae) on 7-19-17, #357-59.

The strangest thing was this Oxalis triangularis was MUCH bigger than the plants I had in Mississippi. I thought that was a bit odd but really never gave it much thought. Then when I was doing “further” research for this page, I paid attention to the infraspecific name Oxalis triangularis subsp. papilionaceae. I clicked on site after site and came to the conclusion that perhaps maybe that infraspecific name was a larger leaved and larger growing subspecies of Oxalis triangularis. Now, I realized that there are green and purple-leaved plants of Oxalis triangularis. In fact, if you do an image search of Oxalis triangularis, you will see plants with green, various shades of purple, and purple variegated leaves. All representing the same species or subspecies… It is ALSO possible this could be a cultivar by the name ‘Atropurpurea’ (See Dave’s Garden below). The Plant of the Week website has a page indicating a plant by the name of Oxalis regnellii atropurpurea. Well, there is no such “official” scientific name. Oxalis regnellii is a synonym of Oxalis triangularis. Well, that link is from March in 1999 and A LOT has changed since then.

Oxalis triangularis (syn. subsp. papilionaceae) on 8-29-17, #369-67.

So, I came to the conclusion this Oxalis triangularis was actually the subspecies Oxalis triangularis subsp. papilionaceae since it was much larger and with larger leaves. It is quite a plant… BUT, that subspecies is now considered a synonym of Oxalis triangularis. Probably they will call it a cultivar…

Oxalis triangularis (syn. subsp. papilionaceae) leaf underside on 8-29-17, #369-68.

Family: Oxalidaceae.
Origin: Central and western South America.
Zones: USDA Zones 6b-11 (-5 to 40° F).
Size: 6-12”+.
Light: Light to part shade.
Soil: Well-drained soil. Prefers not to dry out all the way.
Water: Average water needs. I think it likes water when the top of the soil becomes dry. Do not overwater.

Oxalis triangularis (syn. subsp. papilionaceae) flowers closed for the night on 8-29-17, #369-69.

Not only do the flowers close up in the afternoon, but as it gets darker, the leaves fold downward and inward.

This plant has weird dormancy issues that can drive a person nuts. If your plant dies, don’t throw it out… Remove the dead leaves then after a few weeks give it a little water and it may come back up. It is one of those “just because it is dead doesn’t mean it is dead” plants. Some information online says it just needs a few weeks of dormancy off and on. Well, mine shot craps before I brought the plants inside and I saw no trace of it all winter!

During the winter I had this pot with the Amorphophallus and Oxalis in the basement. They were all dormant or dead so I started digging around in the pot and found several interesting corms, bulbs, or whatever you call them. Yeah, I was an Amprohophallus and Oxalis newbie at the time…


New Oxalis triangularis (syn. subsp. papilionaceae) on 5-5-18, #435-15.

My sister and niece came down from the city to go on their annual plant shopping at the four local Amish greenhouses on May 5 (2018). We went to Wagler’s first since they are on the southeast side of town and because they are our favorite. We looked around a bit, then I went to my favorite section where Mrs. Wagler keeps her plants she shares with others. I found several pots of Oxalis triangularis subsp. papilionaceae and decided I would pick up a couple of pots in case mine didn’t come back up. I told her, “You can never have too many Oxalis.’ I am trying to teach her scientific names, but she just looks at me and smiles.

The bigger pot has a really nice cluster and the smaller one only has a few. NICE!

Oxalis triangularis (syn. subsp. papilionaceae) coming up in the pot on 5-5-18, #435-14.

When I was putting the plants I had brought home on the plant tables behind the shed, I noticed the Oxalis triangularis subsp. papilionaceae was coming in the pot with the Amorphophallus. Like I said, you can never have too many Oxalis. 🙂 Now, when is the Amorphophallus going to come up?

Oxalis triangularis (syn. subsp. papilionaceae) on 5-17-17, #443-70.

The new Oxalis triangularis subsp. papilionaceae was looking good when the above photo was taken on May 17, 2017.


Oxalis triangularis (syn. subsp. papilionaceae) on 7-29-18, #487-73.

I had to move the potted plants by the shed to the front and back porches of the house on July 4 because of a Japanese Beetle invasion. It was much worse in 2018 than in 2017. The plant tables were under a Chinese Elm tree that the beetles love so the environment completely changed.

Oxalis triangularis (syn. subsp. papilionaceae) flowers on 7-29-18, #487-74.

I am not a pink person but I suppose I just have to go with it, huh?

Oxalis triangularis (syn. subsp. papilionaceae) on 8-26-18, #499-29.

I moved the Oxalis around a bit to find the “just right” spot. The front porch has a roof and faces west so the light can be a bit tricky. The plant tables are along the front and south side of the porch so plants that don’t need as much light can go along the wall.

The pot of stems belongs to a friend who said he was having problems with his “fern”. He said it was from his mother’s funeral so it has sentimental value. He said he kept it watered because he knew ferns needed plenty of moisture. He asked if I could look at it and work my magic. So, I went to his home and right off the bat I knew there was an issue. I told him the biggest problem with his fern was that it was a Parlor Palm. I took it home and trimmed off the dead and repotted the “stems” even though I thought there was no hope. Never know…

Oxalis triangularis (syn. subsp. papilionaceae) on 8-26-18, #499-30.

I had the pot of Oxalis with the Amorphallus on the north side of the porch where there was no roof. I am not sure why it was built that way but it made a good place for plants that needed a little more light.

Oxalis triangularis (syn. subsp. papilionaceae) on 10-5-18, #516-9.

I think the Oxalis needed more sun than on the table along the wall because they grow more upright. Not enough light and they tend to sprawl. As you can see in the above photo taken on October 5 in 2018, the Amorphophallus has gone dormant.

Oxalis triangularis (syn. subsp. papilionaceae) on 10-10-18, #519-57.

I had to start moving the potted plants inside for the winter on October 10. Instead of putting the Oxalis in the basement so they could go dormant, I put them in a cool front bedroom. It is always neat how the leaves fold up in the late afternoon/early evening.


Oxalis triangularis (syn. subsp. papilionaceae) on 2-15-19, #547-1.

All of the Oxalis went dormant in the front bedroom because I withheld water so they could. The front bedroom doesn’t get much heat, so it was a nice cool place for dormant bulbs. Of course, they are in the dark because the rhizomes are under the soil. The strange thing is, they all went dormant as expected EXCEPT the ones in the pot with the Amorphallus (also dormant). They kept growing and flowering despite the lack of water…

Oxalis triangularis (syn. subsp. papilionaceae) on 2-15-19, #547-2.

The leaves are as HUGE as always…

Oxalis triangularis (syn. subsp. papilionaceae) on 2-17-19, #548-3.

And they continued to flower over the winter. Why did the plants in this one particular pot not go dormant?

Spring is right around the corner despite how it feels outside. Soon the plants will be able to return to the front porch.

Oxalis triangularis (syn. subsp. papilionaceae) on 5-5-19, #566-51.

Happy to be back outside once again!!!

Oxalis triangularis (syn. subsp. papilionaceae) and Houttuynia cordata ‘Chameleon’ on 6-5-19, #583-25.

While I was plant shopping I brought home a pot of Houttuynia cordata ‘Chameleon’. I was given several of these plants by a friend when I lived in Mississippi but I neglected to bring any with me when I came back to Missouri. I was glad a found it at a local greenhouse. BUT, I kept it in a pot when I should have put it in the ground… It did not return in 2020…

Oxalis triangularis (syn. subsp. papilionaceae) on 6-8-19, #584-8.

The two Amorphophallus are still in the pot with the Oxalis but they hadn’t appeared through the leaves yet when the above photo was taken on 6-8-19.

Oxalis triangularis (syn. subsp. papilionaceae) on 6-16-19, #591-37.

The above photo was the last I took of the Oxalis and its new friend for 2019…


Oxalis triangularis (syn. subsp. papilionaceae) on 6-7-20, #708-11.

We made it through another winter without the Oxalis triangularis going dormant. It would have a few times but when I gave it a little water it perked back up. I had to be careful not to give it too much water because of the dormant Amprphophallus in the same pot…

Oxalis triangularis (syn. subsp. papilionaceae) on 10-15-20, #747-87.

I was fairly busy over the summer in 2020 so I didn’t take many plant photos. The next thing I know it was October 15 and I had to move the plants inside for the winter. There was an “F” in the forecast.


Amorphophallus sp. and Oxalis triangularis (syn. subsp. papilionaceae) on 4-4-21, 789-1.

The Oxalis all went dormant over the winter. I needed to remove the two Amorphophallus corms that share the bigger pot with the Oxalis triangularis subsp. papilionaceae. SO, on April 4 I went to work.

Oxalis triangularis (syn. subsp. papilionaceae) rhizomes on 4-4-21, #789-6.

There were two larger clusters of rhizomes and quite a few single pieces… They are already beginning to grow…

Oxalis triangularis (syn. subsp. papilionaceae) rhizome.

The above photo is a typical Oxalis triangularis subsp. papilionaceae rhizome…

Oxalis triangularis (syn. subsp. papilionaceae) rhizomes in the pot on 4-4-21, #789-7.

I took the large clusters and placed them in the center, with the bottom approximately 3-4″ deep, and made sure the rhizomes attached to them were verticle. I would have taken more detailed photos but I only have two hands… I put the two larger Amprphophallus in their own pots and spaced several of the smaller Oxalis rhizomes around the outside of the pots. Then I put the smaller Amorphophallus corms in their own pots and gave them to Mrs. Wagler when they came up.

Oxalis triangularis on 4-6-21, #790-2.

The local grocery store had a large display of Oxalis triangularis in the early part of March in 2021. They had several pots with purple and black leaves and several with solid green. Well, since I didn’t have one with solid green leaves I brought one home…

Oxalis triangularis leaves on 4-6-21, #790-3.

Oxalis triangularis leaves can be solid green, maroonish, or black and purple…

Oxalis triangularis subsp. papilionaceae (False Shamrock) on 5-22-21, #797-2.

The above photo was taken on May 22 (2021) and the Oxalis triangularis subsp. papilionaceae is doing quite well after the rhizomes were replanted without the Amorphophallus. I put the bigger Amorphophallus rhizomes in their own pots with a few Oxalis to keep them company.

The green Oxalis triangularis on 8-18-21, #827-27.

The green Oxalis triangularis has done well over the summer as long as I remember to keep the plants watered. It’s like when I notice the Oxalis drooping it is time to water…

Unfortunately, the green-leaved Oxalis triangularis didn’t return in 2022.

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. Then there is this question that was answered 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 triangularis (Green & Purple) (False Shamrock, Wood Sorrel, Love Plant, etc.)

  1. Julia Agostinelli says:

    I’ve been trying to locate the Oxalis Triangularis plant that has green leaves with purple underside color, pure white flowers. My plant is old and may expire. Can you help me?

    Liked by 1 person

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