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Arboretum Spotlight: A purple shamrock for dry shade

Purple leaf false shamrock, a native of Brazil, loves dry shade in Sacramento.
Purple leaf false shamrock, a native of Brazil, loves dry shade in Sacramento.

This is one part in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum’s “40 Plants You (Probably) Have Never Heard of – But Will Love,” 40 can’t-fail, easy-care, low-water plants well adapted to our region but hard to find.

Purple leaf false shamrock

Oxalis triangularis ssp. papilonacea ‘Atropurpurea’

Size: Clumps to one foot high and wide.

Bloom season: Pale pink nearly white flowers in summer.

Exposure: Full shade.

Pruning needs: None.

Water needs: Medium; once established, water deeply once a week.

Snap shot: There’s nothing Irish about this pseudo shamrock, but you’ll be tickled pink by how this beautiful foliage plant thrives in dry shade. Purple leaf false shamrock is actually a perennial native to Brazil with beautiful two-toned purple foliage. In our area, it can be grown outside, although it will be completely deciduous in the winter and re-sprout in early summer. The pale pink, almost white flowers emerge in summer, but are not nearly as showy as the foliage.

For more on “40 Plants,” click on arboretum.ucdavis.edu.

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