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love (hearts) in the air

Updated: Dec 9, 2021

The oxalis triangularis or, the Love Plant, False or Purple Shamrock must be familiar to many as it is certainly a common houseplant. It has 3 purple heart shaped leaves, that have 3 sides each, that sit symmetrically to one another at the end of every petiole or "stem".

Some like to think of it as a metaphor for the Christian Holy Trinity, with reference to St Patrick. Others liken it to the shamrock from Irish word, seamróg, which is the diminutive of the Irish word seamair óg and simply means "young clover".

And an interesting fact is that its leaves actually move in response to the intensity of light (i.e. photonasty) They are fully open during the day (light) and close like umbrellas at night. Its leaflets fold at the level of the central vein - powered by changes in turgor pressure in cells at the base of the leaf.

Yes, it's also the love plant, although I doubt it has the same aphrodisiac properties as say the red ginseng. So whilst it does resemble love hearts, it certainly has little effects (IMHO).

Oh, by the way; its leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. It has an acidic taste from the oxalic acid content, and I have seen its used as a decoration for salads. I would not, personally, take it though.

Oxalis triangularis grows from corms, by division. A corm, bulbo-tuber, or bulbotuber is a short, vertical, swollen underground plant stem that serves as a storage organ that some plants use to survive winter or other adverse conditions such as summer drought and heat (perennation).

Like other corms, it goes through regular dormancy periods; at the end of each period, the corms can be unearthed, offsets cut and replanted in appropriate soil, where they will grow into new plants

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