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Purple Butterfly Sorrel Leaves
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Purple Butterfly sorrel leaves are small to medium in size and are uniform and triangular in shape. The leaves are trifoliate, which means they grow in groups of three and have three even sides, and the leaves can be deep purple, magenta, or near black in color with dark edges that fade to a paler center. They have a velvety texture, grow in small clumps, and are sensitive to light, opening during the day and folding in at night. The plant can reach 15-30 centimeters in height and 50 centimeters in width and bears soft-pink or white, five-petaled flowers that also close at night. Purple Butterfly sorrel is crisp and acidic with a lemony taste and a slightly sweet undertone.
Purple Butterfly sorrel is available year-round.
Purple Butterfly sorrel, botanically classified as Oxalis regnelli "Triangularis," is a perennial plant that is a member of the Oxalidaceae, or wood sorrel family. Also known as the Love plant, Purple shamrock, False shamrock, Purple triangle sorrel, Purple wood sorrel, and YKA leaves, Purple Butterfly sorrel is commonly used as a colorful decorative garnish in dishes and gardens. The name YKA is a trademarked name by a Dutch company called Koppert Cress that specializes in cresses, which are seedlings of unique plants and micro-vegetables.
Purple Butterfly sorrel contains oxalic acid, which is a naturally occurring organic acid and defense mechanism that makes it taste sour and discourages animals from eating the plant. The plant is best used in small amounts and should not be consumed in large amounts as it can lead to nutritional deficiencies.
Purple Butterfly sorrel should only be consumed in small quantities and is best served raw as a garnish. Its delicate texture wilts with exposure to heat, and the brilliant color is best preserved when uncooked. Its color offers a vibrant contrast in salads and a bright lemony flavor. Purple Butterfly sorrel compliments crustaceans, shellfish, fish, pork, duck, fruits such as cherries, raspberries, and plums, salad greens, and goat cheese. Purple Butterfly sorrel will keep up to a week when stored in the refrigerator.
Purple Butterfly sorrel is a popular potted plant that is given as a gift on St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland. Though it is not related to the true shamrock, the trifoliate leaves are celebrated as a false shamrock and are also celebrated as an image of the holy trinity in Christianity as the day also commemorates the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. Purple Butterfly sorrel also received the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit in 2002 for its availability, ease of growth, and quality.
Purple Butterfly sorrel is native to South America, specifically in Brazil. It is commonly grown as a houseplant and can be found on online seed catalogs and specialty markets in South, Central, and North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia.