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Pink Woodsorrel

oxalis crassipes

Oxalis crassipes

April 2007. I saw these at the Natural Gardener a few weeks ago and I was shocked. I had thought this plant was a weed; why would anyone want to pay $8 for a gallon of it? Last year I spent a day on my knees in the lawn digging out the hundreds of little bulbs of this stuff. It grows everywhere… in the lawn especially but also around my flower bed.

This year I decided to leave it alone and watch what it does. It is actually very pretty and sweet. Each one grows into a big dome-like clover plant with teeny pink flowers covering it. It actually covers a lot of space with color for a period when a lot of plants aren’t flowering yet. (It started flowering in mid-March 2007 and came up again in the fall and bloomed again after some rains. It is persistent and obviously will multiply so I’m just keeping an eye on it.)

After doing some research, I’m not sure if these little flowers are Oxalis crassipes or Oxalis Violacea (which is native to the u.s.) so I included links to both. They look so similar.

Update February 2009. Since my last post on these, I’ve come around to Oxalis. They couldn’t be more wonderful! I’ve begun to notice them in local gardens, both tame and wild, doing what they do best, in a wildflowery way. I’m pretty sure mine are the crassipes species, which are abundant in Austin and could be a friend or a foe, depending on how you like your garden. (Take Horseherb, for example. I spent weeks pulling it out but when little else grows it becomes a friend. It is often recommended as a native groundcover.)

In the fall I planted the Shamrock Oxalis (Oxalis triangularis, often sold as a St. Patrick’s day plant), and Iron Cross Oxalis (Oxalis deppei) around the edges of my existing patch. I gave up trying to plant sun-oriented plants in the large bed underneath the pecan tree in our front yard, and really adore how these fill in the bare spots and bloom their hearts out all spring. This year, the Oxalis remained green all winter and is getting bigger this month, and of the three I think the crassipes, though wilder looking, looks better filling in cracks. I love its dome-y effect, which the others don’t have.

Oxalis, Palm and Virginia Creeper

In this particular part of my garden, I have suffered four different designs in an attempt to have a bed that wraps around our porch and provides us with some beauty when we are sitting outside, which is often. But the shade from the tree makes many plantings impossible. A sago palm intertwined with Virginia creeper were doing fine, but after taking a serious wound from the palm while playing with my dogs, it had to go. I am just not a palm person.

But I digress. Oxalis are tiny little corms that multiply like mad over the winder. It seems like I can bury them deep or shallow, and they will find their way out. Their petite quality makes them a good “filler”, in gaps between larger plants and edges where nothing else will grow. They will bloom in total shade.