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Oxalis triangularis - A.St.-Hil.

Common Name Oxalis
Family Oxalidaceae
USDA hardiness 10-11
Known Hazards The leaves contain oxalic acid, which gives them their sharp flavour. Perfectly all right in small quantities, the leaves should not be eaten in large amounts since oxalic acid can bind up the body's supply of calcium leading to nutritional deficiency. The quantity of oxalic acid will be reduced if the leaves are cooked. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition[238].
Habitats Amongst rocks by streams at elevations of about 600 metres around Rio de Janeiro[260].
Range S. America - Brazil.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Half Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Oxalis triangularis Oxalis

Oxalis triangularis Oxalis


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Bloom Color: Lavender. Main Bloom Time: Mid spring. Form: Spreading or horizontal.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Oxalis triangularis is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.2 m (0ft 8in) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 9 and is frost tender. It is in leaf from June to October, in flower from June to September. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Plant Habitats

 Cultivated Beds; South Wall. In. West Wall. In.

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Leaves  Root
Edible Uses:

Leaves - raw or cooked[K]. A pleasant acid flavour[K]. Use in moderation, see notes at top of sheet, Flowers - raw[K]. A pleasant and decorative addition to the salad bowl[K]. Most children really adore eating the flowers raw[K]. Root - raw or cooked. The root is up to 5cm long and 15mm wide, it is crisp and juicy with a pleasant sweet mild flavour[K].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None known

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

None known

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Container, Ground cover, Rock garden, Specimen. Easily grown in a sandy soil in a warm dry position in sun or light shade[1, 200]. Grows well in a dry shady corner[260]. Plants are not very cold-hardy in Britain, tolerating temperatures down to about -3°c[260]. Given a suitable position, it should succeed outdoors at least in the mildest parts of the country[K]. It should be possible to grow it even in the colder areas by digging up the bulbs in the autumn after the top growth has been cut down by frosts, storing them in a cool but frost-free place and replanting them in mid to late spring[K]. There are two main forms of this plant, ssp triangularis has smaller, green leaves and is, in our experience, slightly the hardier of the two. Ssp papilionacea has larger, dark purple leaves and is considered the more ornamental[K]. Special Features:Attractive foliage.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. The seed from one subspecies does not always come true - on at least one occasion we have hade the purple-leaved form grow from seed of the green leaved form that had definitely not been cross-pollinated[K]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out in late spring or early summer. Division in spring. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Oxalis acetosellaWood SorrelPerennial0.1 3-7 FLMHFSNM323
Oxalis adenophyllaSauer KleePerennial0.2 4-8  LMHSNM00 
Oxalis articulataPink SorrelPerennial0.2 7-10  LMNM30 
Oxalis barrelieriBarrelier's woodsorrelPerennial0.0 0-0  LMNDM20 
Oxalis bifida Bulb0.3 8-11  LMNDM20 
Oxalis corniculataYellow Sorrel, Creeping woodsorrelAnnual/Perennial0.1 4-8  LMHNDM221
Oxalis corymbosaLilac Oxalis, Pink woodsorrelPerennial0.2 7-10  LMHNDM20 
Oxalis deppeiIron Cross PlantBulb0.3 7-10  LMNM40 
Oxalis enneaphyllaScurvy GrassPerennial0.1 5-9  LMNDM20 
Oxalis europaea Annual/Perennial0.4 -  LMNDM20 
Oxalis exilisLeast Yellow Sorrel, Shady woodsorrelAnnual/Perennial0.1 4-8  LMHNDM22 
Oxalis frutescensShrubby woodsorrelPerennial0.0 0-0  LMNDM20 
Oxalis grandisGreat Yellow WoodsorrelAnnual/Perennial0.2 5-7 FLMHFSM211
Oxalis lasiandra Perennial0.3 8-11  LMSNM00 
Oxalis magellanica Perennial0.0 5-9  LMSNDM20 
Oxalis montanaMountain Wood SorrelPerennial0.1 0-0  LMHSM201
Oxalis oreganaRedwood SorrelPerennial0.2 6-9  LMHFSNM313
Oxalis pes-capraeBermuda ButtercupPerennial0.2 8-11  LMNDM20 
Oxalis strictaYellow Wood Sorrel, Common yellow oxalis, Common Yellow Wood Sorrel, OxalisAnnual0.3 0-0 FLMNDM211
Oxalis tetraphylla Perennial0.1 7-10  LMNDM303
Oxalis tuberosaOcaPerennial0.5 6-9  LMNM50 
Oxalis violaceaViolet Wood SorrelBulb0.3 4-8  LMHSNDM31 

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment



Botanical References

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Readers comment

Mary Williams   Sat Mar 29 00:54:31 2003

I just purchased an Oxalis triangularis and this is the first information I've found.The plant is beautiful, but I wish I had more growing information. I know it's a perennial, but does it spread? I'll have to add comments after the growing season is over to be a better judge. I'm in zone 8-North Tx. region.

David Robinson and Lyn Martin   Sat Jan 8 12:26:20 2005

We have had one of these in a pot for 2 years and it has mostly done very well. At last we know what it is! Ours has pink flowers all the year round. We live in Caithness near the north coast of Scotland.

karin   Sun Jan 30 01:38:38 2005

I fell in love with this plant which my dad had, fluttered my eyelashes at him and it now lives on my bathroom windowsill :) My 8 year old daughter delights in telling me that it's bedtime because the pretty plant has gone to sleep now!

I love it!!

Elmer Custead   Sat Jul 30 19:58:47 2005

Our original growth is dying out. It has been a house plant for 6 mos. we now observe small potatoe-like bulb/tubulars forming at or just below the surface. Some of these new tubulars now have sprouts, is now the time to plant/replant and if so how deep? At what season? Appreciate management suggestions. (oxalis triangularis).

Ilona Stretch   Thu Dec 20 2007

I only found out today what my Oxalis Triangularis actually was! It's such a beautiful plant and several of my work colleagues have asked for cuttings of it. The office environment that mine lives in is not the best, but my mother's one sits on our North-facing kitchen window and does invcredibly well! I've found out today that I could be over-feeding mine somewhat, so will hold off on the Baby Bio for a while and see what happens...

Ken Fern, Plants for a Future   Sun Feb 3 2008

Like Sonia, I grow this plant in a cool house. I have had it for a number of years and have found that the best way to keep it happy is to give it plenty of space to spread. It does not like small pots, nor does it like overwet soil. The best way to water it is to give it a good soak and then leave it alone until the soil is fairly dry before giving it another good soak. It is important to ensure that the soil is well-drained - I usually add a little sharp sand to my potting compost to make sure there is good drainage. I would advise you to pot up the plant now - dividing up the clump and planting small clumps in relatively small (3½") pots. As they grow, pot them on into larger pots - they do not have to be especially deep, the amount of surface area is more important. I actually grow my best plant on a window ledge in an old fish tank that has been filled with soil together with a few other plants. It really thrives there, providing edible leaves for most of the year and edible flowers for almost as long.



Mrs. E. Duck   Tue Oct 30 2007

I have had a oxalis for many years not knowing the name until recently I have always called it my butterfly plant. everyone always admires it and most of my friends now have a plant of their own from it.

Sonia   Thu Jan 31 2008

I have had a purple oxalis triangularis in an indoor pot for around four years and love it. But it seems to be struggling, with only a few stems left. These are drooping and dying off. I'd love to know how to revive it. My house is on the cool side and I've been advised to keep the soil moist. Sonia

Laura Young   Fri Oct 24 2008

I've had several small windowsill pots of this lovely plant for six years now. Whenever they begin to look straggly or pathetic, I've found it useful to cut most if not all of the stems off. After a few weeks of "rest", they grow back, and look 100% healthier.

Plant of the Week A little more information about keeping Oxalis as a houseplant.

Jack Dennis   Fri Feb 20 2009

We were given a single oxalis tyriangualris plant a few years back and its offspring now occupy two huge pots in our Maine home. It flowers almost daily and year round without a break. The woman who gave it to us just responded to a request for the proper name for the plant and she couldn't remember and a Google search brought us to you. Thanks for the good information. Jack My response to Rosanne for this nice gift: Rosanne, Some searching on Google found the illusive name — oxalis triangualris is popularly known as Brazilian Butterfly and, appropriately, it comes from Rio de Janerio. As the site put it, found "Amongst rocks by streams at elevations of about 600 metres around Rio de Janeiro." This plant is indestructible, though it looks and is fragile, its cone-like bulb returns it to life again and again, flowering with the most precious pink blossoms almost daily. A happy plant to share any room with. We gave my mother, god love her, a plant twice and when the foliage disappeared she impatiently threw them away. I guess when you're just weeks from your 100th, you might tend to become a bit impatient. Anyway, she was a dear and witty and observant until the end. So, your lovely one plant in a dixie cup has given much pleasure and its offspring flourish. If you remind me, we will share a cone or two with you all when we next get together.

Cindy Clark   Sat Mar 28 2009

I had no idea these were from bulbs. They just "magically" appeared in another potted plant and we've been sharing cuttings for several years. Ours are purple/green (depending on the amount of light) with white flowers. If they don't get enough light they turn green and try to climb out the window! They're very active - like little pets - they seem to like being crowded and cuttings root very easily. Mine first has been in a tiny, 3 inch pot for several years. All of her cuttings flower right away but she, herself didn't flower until I'd had her about 3 years. Everyone just loves them! I didn't know, until a few days ago, that they came from bulbs.

JANETTE GRAHAM   Tue May 26 2009


thomasvye   Sun Oct 25 2009

I am worried about one of my Oxalis. The stems have been becoming really purple and are falling out at the stem. Is the plant just shutting down for the winter? Is it ill? I don't know alot about how to care for it and the other Oxalis that sits next to it seems to be fine. They live on a window sill with good light, get watered when their soil is dry and are in quite big pots. Any help?

Ron Jerome   Thu Oct 29 2009

Hi all you triangularis fans. I have been looking for some corms of this plant for over a year now. they are very difficult to find. if anyone has any spare bulbs I am willing to pay for them, or exchange 3 of my achimenes rhizomes for every oxalis offered, to a max of 10. [email protected], thank you Ron J.

Richard Pettengill   Sun Jan 10 2010

Hi my name is Rich. I a mutated version of this plant. It has pink verigated leaves and white flowers. this plant is going to be big. anyone who collects these plants will love this one. for a pic. email me at [email protected]. im also looking for a backer for a commercial applaction.

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