The Q&A Archives: Looking For A Plant

Question: I was visiting an Aunt in Mississippi who had been given a small plant. It was outdoors and had purple leaves, large and small, in the shape of 4-leaf clovers. She said it was called a purple shamrock. No one seems to know what I am talking about. DO you know anything about this great plant? Thank you.

Answer: What you've described sounds to me like Oxalis, commonly called wood sorrel or shamrock. In warm winter climates it can be grown outdoors and makes a beautiful, but sometimes invasive groundcover. In cold winter climates it's generally kept indoors and enjoyed as a houseplant. It's a fairly common plant, but is very easy to find in March, right around St. Patrick's Day. Ask a local nursery for Oxalis purpurea. If they don't have the plant, they should be getting bulbs later this summer for planting this fall. (The plants grow from bulbs and develop rhizomelike roots.) Enjoy your lucky shamrock!

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