Many Chicago gardeners enjoy celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, and they may enjoy learning about the Irish shamrock, a flowering plant that grows in Ireland and throughout the Northern Hemisphere from Hardiness Zones 3-8. The shamrock was used by St. Patrick to illustrate his religious beliefs.
The Latin name of the Irish shamrock is oxalis acetosella var. rosea. Its common name is Irish shamrock. It belongs to the family of plants known as OXALIDACEAE. In this plant family, there are some varieties commonly called sorrel.
The Irish shamrock grows horizontally, and it’s mat-forming with stems that densely cover the ground, reaching the height of 2 in. (5 cm.). Its flowers extend above the leaves. It’s rhizomatous which means that it has branching and fleshy stems that may grow above the ground or below the ground. It’s a perennial plant that spreads indefinitely and flowers for more than one growing season.
Irish shamrocks have clover-like, bright green leaves that grow in groups of three on a stem. Each leaf is inversely heart-shaped and lightly hairy. The leaflets are ¾ inch (2 cm.) long.
The plant produces rose-pink, cup-shaped flowers. These flowers are dark-veined and emerge in the spring. Each flower has five petals and measure ¾ in. (2 cm.) across. They appear as a solitary flower.
Irish shamrocks would make a lovely ground cover in a Chicago garden. They should grow hardily in Chicago’s hardiness zone. Chicago gardeners might want to experiment with Irish shamrocks.
The Chicago Flower and Garden Show ends Sunday.
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