Oxalis elegans H.B. & K.

Frost-tender bulbous perennial with 3 roundish leaflets, green above purplish beneath and flowering stems bearing 2-6 purple flowers with a deeper coloured throat.  [RHSD].  

Horticultural & Botanical History

A variable species, its flowers described as violet-coloured [Don] and purple [JD].  ‘Its leaflets are firm, fleshy, dark, rich green, stained with purple on the under-side. A 9 inch stalk bears a truss of 5-6 deep rose-coloured flowers, with a rich dark-purple eye.  Planted in the open border, and fed abundantly with air and dew, it has become a gem of the purest water.’  [The Gardeners Chronicle, 1849].  It was heavily advertised in this journal at this time.

‘It is difficult to say which of the 2 varieties is the best.  The flowers of variety alpha are the largest, but the palest coloured: variety beta has the smaller but deepest coloured blossom.  Whether the purple underside of the leaf is peculiar to alpha or occasionally common to both I cannot say.  [The leaves are] generally purple beneath in alpha , pale green beneath in beta.  [The scapes are] terminated by an umbel of from 6-9 or 10 handsome showy flowers.  [The] entire corolla is of a purple colour, more or less deep, and varying a little in size: in the centre is an intensely dark purple eye.’  [BM t.4490/1850]. 

‘This beautiful flowering species, [originally discovered by Humboldt on the Andes of Loxa, in Columbia, at nearly 7000 feet] which has usually been grown in the greenhouse, flourishes and blooms profusely in the open border.  It deserves a place in every greenhouse or flower garden.’  [FC p.242/1849, FC p.25/1850].  Introduced to Britain in 1846, sent from Peru to Veitch and Sons, Exeter, by Thomas Lobb.  [PD].

History at Camden Park

Listed in the 1850 and 1857 catalogues [B.371/1850].  Obtained from Veitch’s Nursery, brought out from England by Captain P. P. King in 1849.  Believed by Macarthur to be a new introduction.  [ML A1980-3].


Published Jan 28, 2010 - 03:02 PM | Last updated Jan 28, 2010 - 03:09 PM

Shown are leaves with 3 leaflets, purple beneath, purple flowers with a deeper centre. Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.4490, 1850.

Oxalis elegans H.B. & K. | BM t.4490/1850 | RBGS

More details about Oxalis elegans H.B. & K.
Family Oxalidaceae
Region of origin


Common Name
Name in the Camden Park Record

Oxalis elegans 

Confidence level high