It is native plant in much of the United States, from the Rocky Mountains east to the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico coasts, and through Eastern Canada. It has a tendency to cluster in open places in damp woods and on stream banks, and in moist prairies.
Oxalis violacea emerges in early spring from an underground bulb, and grows to an average height of approximately 7 inches. The three-part leaves have heart-shaped leaflets. It is similar in appearance to small clovers such as the shamrock.
The plant bears violet colored flowers above the foliage, during April, May, and June.
All parts of the plant are edible; flowers, leaves, stems, and bulb. Oxalis is from the Greek word meaning sour, and this plant has a sour juice. It is used in salads. Moderate use of plant is advisable, as it should not be eaten in large quantities due to a high concentration of oxalic acid, ("salt of lemons") which can be poisonous.
Oxalis violacea is cultivated as an ornamental plant, for use as a flowering groundcover or perennial plant in traditional and native plant gardens, and for natural landscaping projects. It spreads rapidly by runners and bulbs. In gardens the plant prefers partial shade and moisture.
- Species account from ARS Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) — Oxalis violacea (violet wood-sorrel) . accessed 4.14.2013
- University of Michigan - Dearborn: 'Oxalis violacea species account from Native American Ethnobotany database
- Berndt Berglund & Clare E. Bolsby (1971). The Edible Wild: A complete cookbook and guide to edible wild plants in Canada and North America. Burns & MacEachern Limited—Pagurian Press Limited.
- Missouri Botanical Garden; Kemper Center for Home Gardening — Oxalis violacea
- Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Native Plant Information Network (NPIN) — Oxalis violacea
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