One Man's Pernicious Weed is another's Oxalis Boweii

Mary Sue Ittner
Wed, 26 Nov 2008 16:29:47 PST
Dear David,

I wonder if the weed you are describing could be Oxalis purpurea. Diana 
Chapman once said you could make a lawn out of it. It's the one that in 
Northern California can spread much more than you'd like (besides Oxalis 
pes-caprae which is yellow and seems to appear out of nowhere.) I think 
people purposely plant Oxalis purpurea since it is long blooming , comes in 
many different colors (white, pink, rose, salmon, yellow, violet, cream) 
and the leaves are attractive if you like shamrock leaves . Oxalis bowiei 
(note the correct spelling) which is an Eastern Cape species in my 
experience produces very large bulbs, is tall and fall blooming.  Oxalis 
purpurea has dark gummy  bulbs of many sizes and once planted in 
Mediterranean climates in the ground is difficult to eradicate. I assume as 
with many Oxalis species that some forms are more invasive than others. The 
one called 'Grand Duchess' is often for sale. In my garden in Stockton, 
California it grew in clay soil with very little to no supplemental water 
and bloomed from October through April, disappeared in the summer and then 
reappeared in fall. In spite of its invasive qualities, it was very pretty. 
On the coast in my garden with a lot of trees and not as much sun, it 
doesn't bloom nearly as well, but still spreads dramatically.

Hopefully one day we'll get pictures of bulbs on the Oxalis pages of the 
wiki as they are often very helpful in identification. If you are going to 
give it away, it would be nice for people to know for sure what it is they 
are getting.

Mary Sue

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