Oxalis triangularis subsp. papilionacea

We’ll do a bit of a rewrite for yesterday’s entry due to the misidentification, but that might not show up until next week. In the meantime, here’s the next in the nastic plant movement series by Taisha. She writes:

Today’s photo is of Oxalis triangularis subsp. papilionacea or the purpleleaf false shamrock. Another common name is the love plant. This photograph was taken by Anne Elliott (aka annkelliott@Flickr), and shared via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool. Thanks Anne!

Oxalis triangularis subsp. papilionacea is native to rocky stream banks of Brazil. A recipient of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit, this attractive taxon with its striking pink flowers and red-burgundy-purple triangular-shaped leaves is often grown as a houseplant in temperate climates.

Purpleleaf false shamrock moves in response to changes in light, i.e., photonasty. When exposed to light, the leaves of Oxalis triangularis subsp. papilionacea fold out and upward. In response to darkness, the leaves will fold down and inward (timelapse video). The light-receptive part of the plant that receives the stimuli in this taxon is in the pulvinis (the section between the leaf and petiole) (see: Kang, JH. et al. 2009. Leaf movement by light condition in Oxalis triangularis. Hort. Environ. Biotechnol. 50(4):371-475).

Oxalis triangularis subsp. papilionacea

7 responses to “Oxalis triangularis subsp. papilionacea”

  1. Denis

    I have been able to propagate this Oxalis cultivar by taking leaf cuttings. I discovered this accidentally by using them as part of a small arrangement. The leaves just never wilted and then finally I just decided to toss them. When I pulled them out, I discovered why they hadn’t wilted, they’d developed roots. I then planted them in a pot at an angle such that the bottom of the petiole was about an inch below the surface of the potting soil. New leaves began emerging about three weeks after I planted. I wondered if it was a bit of a fluke, so I repeated it the next year and the propagation was successfully repeated.
    I’m currently attempting this with another Oxalis species. It will be interesting to see if it works.

  2. J. Shejbal

    Hello,
    To my knowledge Oxalis triangularis subsp. triangularis is the red leafed Oxalis, extremely useful in gardens.
    Oxalis triangularis subsp. papilionacea has green leaves and white flowers (our catalogue 4).
    Regards
    J. Shejbal

  3. Equisetum

    I’m really enjoying the new level of plant information in the latest writeups! Not that I don’t love identification, but it’s sure fun to find out more about (and for the red leafed oxalis, actually see) what plants are doing!
    Thanks, Daniel, Taisha, and all, for sharing your work.

  4. Daniel Mosquin

    J. Shejbal, I did look into what name should be applied to this photograph, and as you imply, it isn’t very clear.
    I opted to use what I best could sort out from the listing of the various Oxalis triangularis on the Royal Horticultural Society’s Plant Finder. The names in the RHS Plant Finder have been vetted to some extent — and they associated “purpleleaf false shamrock” with this subspecies.
    If I could be pointed to a scholarly work where someone has reviewed the naming for this taxon, I would certainly reconsider. I included a link to an image of a specimen, which generally supports your assertion (but, I do see a bit of a purplish colour cast to it, so a slight chance that that particular pigment breaks down?).

  5. howard

    Hi, Can Denis please specify exactly where the new formed roots grew from, please?

  6. Denis

    Howard,
    The new roots formed from the bottom of the petiole. This is why I planted it an an angle, since the petiole is quite long relative to the leaf size and the depth to which the crown of this plant usually sits.
    Alternately, I suppose one could simply cut the leaf off with only 3-5 centimeters of petiole.

  7. Toinette Lippe

    A friend grew this in his window box in NYC and it was so vigorous, he removed some of it and potted it for me. I started to grow it indoors on my window sill, but it didn’t take well to the move indoors and when all the flowers and leaves died, I put it with the spare pots under my kitchen sink and forgot about it. Usually I throw away the dead plant and clean the pot but for some reason I didn’t do that. Two months later I was peering under the sink, looking for an empty pot, and I saw three long pale stalks. I pulled the pot out, not remembering what it was, put it back on my indoor windowsill, and began to water it. It hadn’t had any water during its closeted state. Now I have five big healthy leaves and a new shoot comes up about once a week. This is the nearest I’ve come to witnessing a miracle.

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