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Oxalis deppei - Loddiges.

Common Name Iron Cross Plant
Family Oxalidaceae
USDA hardiness 7-10
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 Not known
Range Southern N. America - Mexico. Occasionally established in Europe.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Frost Hardy Moist Soil Full sun
Oxalis deppei Iron Cross Plant

(c) 2010 Ken Fern & Plants For A Future
Oxalis deppei Iron Cross Plant


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of bulb
Oxalis deppei is a BULB growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.1 m (0ft 4in).
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 8 and is frost tender. It is in flower from June to November. 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 and neutral soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Plant Habitats

 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Leaves  Root
Edible Uses:

Leaves and flowers - raw or cooked[2, 37, 183]. A delicious lemony flavour, the leaves are tender and fairly free of fibres even when they get older[K]. Both the leaves and the flowers make a very refreshing and thirst-quenching munch in the garden, they also make an excellent flavouring in salads[K]. The leaves are available from June to October and the flowers from July to October, or even later in mild autumns[K]. Use in moderation, see notes at top of sheet. Root - raw or cooked[1, 2, 27, 37, 183]. The roots are up to 10cm long and 3cm wide at the top, they are tender and juicy but usually insipid[K]. Occasionally the root has a pleasant acid flavour, we have yet to find out what causes the difference[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

An easily grown plant, preferring a sandy soil in a warm dry position[1, 27, 37]. It dislikes dry or heavy soils[37]. Dislikes lime[37]. Prefers a southerly aspect[37]. This species is only hardy outdoors in the milder areas of Britain, tolerating temperatures down to about -5°c or perhaps a bit lower if the soil is very well-drained. The bulbs are easily harvested in late autumn, however, and can be stored overwinter in a cool frost free place, replanting them in the spring[K]. In milder winter areas a good mulch is usually sufficient to see the bulbs through the winter and they will then normally be more productive of leaves and flowers in the following year. Plants have survived the winter for several years without a mulch on our trial grounds in Cornwall[K]. A very ornamental plant, flowering freely all summer[1, K]. It was formerly cultivated in Mexico for its edible tuber[46] (this may be a mistaken entry that should have referred to O. tuberosa. Whilst the root of this plant is edible it is neither productive nor very flavourful. The leaves and the flowers are far superior[K]). This species is closely related to and probably part of O. tetraphylla[200], differing only in its sessile bulbils and truncate leaves[50].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as ripe in a cold frame. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in late spring or early summer. Our plants have never produced seed. Division in autumn, harvest the bulbs and replant in the spring. They usually increase very freely.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Coming Soon

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 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 triangularisOxalisPerennial0.2 10-11 MLMSNDM30 
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.


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Botanical References


Links / References

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Readers comment

melissa   Sat Apr 16 2005

Hi, I used to munch on oxalis as a child, and I have some odd health symptoms now that seem to be associated with calcium and oxalate consumption. You might want to consider not allowing your 16 month old to consume it. from my brief research on the web, it seems to me that it is well-documented that livestock get kidney damage and can die from grazing on plants containing high amounts of oxalates, and some of them are even supposed to process it better than humans do.

Steven Doyle   Thu Mar 2 2006

Hi, Cooking will break up the oxalic acid. Eating oxalics are especially dangerous for anyone whose health is compromised. Even raw spinach should be avoided unfortunately, Cooking changes all that. Perhaps Eggs Florentine with Oxalis leaves instead of spinach?

Dave L   Fri Mar 17 2006

It's a problem here in the CA SF Bay area; right now my back yard (and much of the whole town) is covered with a pretty carpet of shamrocks with yellow flowers, but soon they will die back leaving nothing but bare dirt blowing around the house all summer and fall. Somehow they still manage to prevent the grass seed I have applied three times from growing into a lawn.

California Native Plant Society

Ken Fern   Mon Sep 18 2006

The problem Dave L has is not with Oxalis deppei. This is a dainty well-behaved creature with pinkish flowers. The plant Dave is having problems with is most likely Oxalis pes-caprae.

Help   Fri Sep 15 2006

Is this an Unusual plant??

Ken Fern   Mon Sep 18 2006

Oxalis deppei is fairly easy to obtain in Britain, usualy under the name of "Iron Cross Plant". The small bulbs will be found for sale in the winter and early spring and are usualy quite cheap. If you are unable to obtain them, then consult "The Plant Finder" at www.rhs.org.uk

elle   Mon Nov 27 2006

I didn't enjoy the sharp taste, but then again I'm not mad on sorrel either. Hardy in London. 4-leaf clover type leaves are quite ornamental, flowers are fuschia-pink but fairly small and not numerous.

Gem   Thu Aug 9 2007

I was just searching the internet to find out what the plants in the lawn, at my new house were, I found some pics and used the name to find out more which led me here :) Very interesting stuff mine were growing rather well in june in the north of england and i presume they survived last winter cos they're all over the shop! Very nice though I might pot them up :)

julie   Tue Apr 1 2008

is there more than one variety and are they all hardy

Amos grosche   Fri Dec 19 2008

this is so cool about 2 weaks a go a oxalis at a markets i cant fully indentifi it has dark purple on the edag of the leaf and lite purple on the inside i have heard it called butterfly plant it vear perty sorry about the spelling mistacks if aneybody has infoamtion ples emil me at [email protected]

Mike   Fri Mar 13 2009

Plant & Grdening Tips For more information on growing and caring for Oxalis (Shamrock)

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