This is one part in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum’s “Garden Gems” series – 45 can’t-fail, easy-care, low-water plants well adapted to our region and that add sparkle to drought-tolerant landscapes.
Purple leaf false shamrock
Oxalis triangularis ssp.papillionacea ‘Atropurpurea’
Size: Grows 1 foot tall and 2 feet wide.
Bloom season: Pale pink flowers in late summer.
Exposure: Shade or morning sun.
Pruning needs: None.
Water needs: Medium to low water; will go drought deciduous without irrigation, but then bounce back with water. Once established, irrigate deeply once a week or every other week.
Snapshot: There’s nothing false about this lovely water-wise perennial; it’s a true favorite for dry shade. It gets its nickname because it looks like a three-lobed shamrock (a member of the clover family), but is no relation. Native to Brazil, this low-growing herbaceous perennial forms a rounded clump of dark amethyst purple leaves in summer. In August, a halo of baby pink flowers sprouts above the leaves. False shamrock is a great way to add this unusual foliage color to the shade garden.
For more on “Garden Gems,” click on arboretum.ucdavis.edu.