Also known as “wild shamrocks”, this little native plant has both pretty flowers AND pretty leaves!
Ranging in height from 4 to 8 inches, Violet Wood Sorrel is what you might call a “stemless” plant. That’s because each leaf emerges directly from the ground on a long petiole (there is no stem). The 1-inch wide leaves are composed of three heart-shaped leaflets. The leaflets are sometimes marked with a reddish tinge, as they are in the photo above.
Unlike other Oxalis species that are yellow, this one has pink or violet flowers with whitish-green centers. Each bell-shaped flower has five petals and five small, green sepals. Much like the leaves, the flowers are borne on long stalks. There may be two to several flower buds on each stalk (peduncle).
Here are some interesting things to note about this little pink flower with shamrock-shaped leaves:
- Shamrocks became associated with St. Patrick in Ireland when he supposedly used the leaf of this plant to demonstrate the concept the Holy Trinity.
- All parts of this plant are edible in small quantities–apparently the taste is lemony-sour so it can be used in salads to perk up the flavors.
- And finally, the entire plant exhibits evening “sleep patterns”. The leaves fold downward and the flowers close at night.
Look for Violet Wood Sorrel blooming now, in late May, and then for another month or so. Occasionally, it will re-bloom in the fall.