Acceptable Oxalis

Ron Vanderhoff
Tue, 28 Apr 2009 21:49:09 PDT

I suspect there are a few qualified folks out there who could write of well mild climate Oxalis (myself included, Christiaan van Schalkwyk, Andrew Broome, Diana Chapman and others). However, there seems to be a bit of a split among most Oxalis addicts. All of us seem to be focused upon one particular segment of the rather large Oxalis genus.

I rather arbitrarily divide Oxalis into three segments, based upon growing seasons, environment, and climate. So too can we divide the hobbyists that collect them and the researchers that study them.

My three divisions of oxalis, and therefore my three division of Oxalis followers, are:

1) The mild winter-growing species (those from South Africa).
2) The summer growing species (mostly from lowland South America).
3) Those from colder and higher elevation alpine or near alpine conditions (the higher Andes through Patagonia).

An article for The Rock Garden Quarterly would really best be focused upon this last group, of which species like Oxalis laciniata, enneaphylla and adenophylla are the most common in collections, although there are many, many more. As you are finding out, of the three groups of Oxalis it is these alpine species that are the least understood and least represented in gardens.

Sounds like it would be a good article, but finding an author may be as elusive as are these Oxalis.

Ron Vanderhoff
Sunny, Mediterranean southern California

From: Jane McGary <>
To: Pacific Bulb Society <>
Sent: Tuesday, April 28, 2009 12:12:25 PM
Subject: [pbs] Acceptable Oxalis

Mary Sue mentioned the Oxalis photos Ron Vanderhoff had put on the wiki.

I've tried a few times to elicit an article for the Rock Garden 
Quarterly (which I edit) on Oxalis species that are reasonably 
winter-hardy and not invasive threats, and thus suitable for 
small-scale planting in garden or trough. Is anyone out there 
interested in submitting such an article?

Just now the only OXalis flowering here is in the bulb frames -- O. 
obtusa in a warm pink hue. It IS an invasive one, swarming around in 
the plunge sand among the pots, but its foliage is so small and its 
flowers so large and pretty that I let it go. There were a few tiny 
plants of it in the open garden, but they seem not to have survived a 
slightly colder than average winter this year. Telos Rare Bulbs is 
the source, and I think Diana Chapman, the proprietor, has different 
color forms.

Next winter I hope to revisit the really hardy and wonderful Oxalis 
species of Patagonia, all but one of which are growable (that one, O. 
erythrorrhiza, has been grown well in one place I know of -- Nova 
Scotia!). The Andes have a great number of well-behaved Oxalis, most 
of which we never encounter in gardens or even alpine houses. O. 
adenophylla is the one everybody grows, but the color form usually 
seen in gardens is inferior to many in the wild.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

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