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Products > Oxalis crassipes 'Alba'
Oxalis crassipes 'Alba' - White Wood-Sorel

Note: This plant is not currently for sale. This is an archive page preserved for informational use.  

Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Perennial
Family: Oxalidaeceae (Wood-sorrels)
Origin: South America
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: White
Bloomtime: Year-round
Height: <1 foot
Width: 1-2 feet
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 10-15 F
Oxalis crassipes 'Alba' (White Wood-Sorel) - An evergreen tuft-forming woody rhizomatous species (not from a bulb or corm) reaching to 10 inches tall and slowly spreading to about 18 inches wide with decorative trifoliate clover-like leaves. In late winter in California gardens (later in cooler climates) emerge, just above the foliage, a profusion of 1" wide pure white flowers with yellow stamens. Flowering continues strongly until early summer with lingering flowers until first frost - longer blooming than the pink form. Can grow in full coastal sun but looks better in morning sun to light shade and give regular to occasional irrigation. Hardy as a dormant plant to below 0 F and useful to at least USDA Zone 6 and with, some say, protection to Zone 5. For us it is evergreen until frosted back. There is a tendency to lump all Oxalis together but this species has never become pesky in our garden and is a favorite plant here and in the southeast. One of my favorite writers on this subject is Scott Ogden who notes in his "Garden Bulbs for the South" about the pink form: "A tough thrifty native of the Argentine pampas, O. crassipes often returns to bloom in fall, persisting through the winter on sheltered sites. This is an invaluable plant for Southern gardens, a prime choice for edging beds or pathways. Its lightly felted, cloverlike leaves make handsome mounds even when not it bloom." It is easy to split and divide clumps if they become too big at any time of the year. This species is native to Argentina and Brazil. The name for the genus is that of Linnaeus from the Greek words 'oxus' (sometimes spelled 'oxys'or 'oxis') meaning "sour" or "acid" which he used when describing Oxalis acetosella. The specific epithet is from the Latins word 'crass' meaning "solid", "thick", "fat" or "dense", the connecting vowel 'i' and 'pes' meaning "foot", likely in reference to the woody rhizome. An interesting early name for Wood-sorrel is Lujula, which was thought to be a corruption of the word Allelujah (Hallelujah) or "praise the lord" and so named for this plant's many virtues with leaves of the Trefoil, the taste of Sorrel (a Dock or Rumex) and flowers like a Geranium. Of course as a kid we just called them all sourgrass! Most recent treatment of the this species has lumped it with Oxalis articulata as Oxalis articulata forma crassipes (or O. articulata ssp. rubra forma crassipes) but we continue to list it just as Oxalis crassipes as this is the name most commonly used. Our thanks to garden designer Dan Tyson for encouraging us to grow this great little plant.  The information on this webpage is based on research conducted about this plant in our nursery library, from online sources, as well as from observations made of it as it grows in the nursery in containers, in the nursery's garden and in other gardens where we have observed it growing. We will also incorporate comments received from others and welcome getting feedback from those who may have additional information, particularly if this information includes cultural information that would aid others in growing  Oxalis crassipes 'Alba'.