Beautiful Blue Flowering Shamrocks

Parochetus communis, aka africanus

Shamrock Pea, Blue Oxalis

Unreal blue flowers/Exotic trailing plant

Known as both blue oxalis and shamrock pea, this diminutive beauty is native to the mountains of Africa and Asia. It is low at 1 to 3 inches tall (6 inches with flowers), and it spreads to a couple of feet or more. The green leaves often have a circle pattern of dark red. The cobalt blue flowers are unbelievable at first sight. The “Blue Oxalis” sports its pea-like flowers during the cooler months of the year. When not in bloom, the plant itself is attractive thanks to its lush green, three-part leaves. As a garden planting, the P. africanus forms a lush green carpetlike groundcover, punctuated by floating blue, during a long flowering season.

This highly ornamental plant’s rarity in cultivation is inexplicable. It is easy to grow and delights all who see it in bloom. Parochetus communis, aka africanus looks like an Oxalis or clover, but it is actually a legume and member the bean family (Fabaceae). Its native range includes higher elevation parts of tropical Africa and South Asia. This prostrate-growing perennial trails along the ground or trails down the sides of a pot, covering itself with charming bright-green, shamrock-like leaves. It is a wonderful plant to use as a ground cover because it stays under 4″ in height. It can be used in combination plantings in pots and planters and will add an elegant touch as it trails down the sides of its container . Parochetus is also an excellent candidate for hanging baskets. The beautiful leaves and flowers create a delightful sight as they spill down in vertical chains.

This species is easy to grow, especially in moist, cooler climates. Where day-time temperatures regularly soar above 90°F, this plant should be provided with shade. It likes rich, well-drained soil and needs to stay moist whilst in active growth. It is hardy to 23°F and goes deciduous once cold winter temperature arrives. Protection from slugs and snails is important.

Parochetus communis, aka africanus

Common names: blue oxalis, shamrock pea

  • flowering season: summer
  • height: 1 – 3 inches, spreading wider indefinitely
  • Light requirements: sun, partial shade; afternoon shade where summers are especially hot
  • Soil requirements: average
  • Water requirements: average
  • Growth habit: low and spreading
  • How to propagate: digging up a rooted runner
  • Leaf type: clover-like leaves
  • Ways to use it: edging taller flowering plants; bordering sidewalks and pathways; at the edge of hanging baskets of mixed flow

~ Terri Ellen Donsker

 All Photography ©Terri Ellen Donsker

 

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