WILDFLOWERS OF NEW MEXICO

 

This stemless plant has a basal cluster of clover-like leaves and numerous stems with rounded arrays of purple flowers. This is the common purple Oxalis in NM mountains at mid to high elevations. The leaves and flower stalks grow from a bulb with a dense cluster bulblets. Note the bulb scales have 3 nerves. Oxalis species have a tart taste from oxalic acid, which can cause painful poisoning if over-eaten.


FLOWER: June–September. The 4–10-inch (10–25 cm) tall flower stems are about twice as tall as the leaves. Each stem is tipped with a cluster of 1–7 funnel-shaped, 3/4–1 1/4–inch wide (20–30 mm) flowers and nodding buds. The 5, spreading, purple to violet petals have bright yellow anthers and whitish throats with dark lines to guide insects into the flower. Ripe seed capsules, 1/4–1/2-inch long (5–12 mm), pop open to eject seeds several inches from the plant.


LEAVES: Basal only. Leaves 1 1/2–12-inches tall (4–30 cm) with 3 heart-shaped leaflets, 3/8–1 1/4-inches wide (1–3 cm), joined at the pointed base. Leaflets have shallow notches, smooth margins. Leaflets and flowers fold up at night and on shady days.


HABITAT: Sandy, gravelly soils, meadows, open areas; pinyon-juniper, ponderosa, spruce-fir forests.


ELEVATION: 5,000–10,000 feet.


RANGE: AZ, CO, NM.


SIMILAR SPECIES: About 4–5 purple woodsorrels with minor differences in NM. Some authorities call this species O. alpina. To add to the confusion, some authorities treat O. violaceae in the SW as O. metcalfei, others as O. alpina. Broadleaf Woodsorrel, O. latifolia, has bulbs with 5–11 nerves. Flora Neomexicana III a: Field Keys (Allred, 2012) lists O. violaceae as a synomyn for O. latifolia, yet SEINet recognizes O. violaceae as a separate species. Blue Woodsorrel, O. caerulea, infrequent in western and northern mountains, has 3–5 leaflets, and Ten-petal Woodsorrel, O. decaphylla, in sw NM, has 5–13 leaflets.


NM COUNTIES: Widespread in the western half of NM in mountains in mid- to high-elevation habitats: Bernalillo, Catron, Cibola, Colfax, Dona Ana, Grant, Hidalgo, Lincoln, Luna, McKinley, Otero, Sandoval, Sierra, Socorro, Taos, Torrance.

VIOLET  WOODSORREL

OXALIS  METCALFEI  (aka OXALIS  ALPINA)

Oxalis Family, Oxalidaceae

Perennial herb

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