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The Plant Guide

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Purple sheep’s burr

Acaena inermis 'Purpurea'

ah-SEE-nah ih-NER-mis

This New Zealand native subshrub has 3-inch-wide scalloped leaves and little purple-brown to pale olive leaflets. Its rhizomatous roots spread in a mat to support this plant’s wonderful ground-cover form. In early summer, 3/4-inch-wide flowers appear on short stems, and brownish green sepals and white anthers contrast with the dark leaves. The rhizomatous roots of this plant spread slowly into a mat, forming a nice ground cover. Prune every five years or so for a neat appearance; little other care is required. -Gerald Gibbens, Regional Picks: Northwest, Fine Gardening issue #120

Noteworthy CharacteristicsScalloped, purple leaves. Low maintenance.

CareProvide full sun and well-drained, sandy soil.

PropagationSeparate rooted stems in early spring or fall, or take cuttings in late spring.

ProblemsPowdery mildew, rust.

  • Genus : Acaena
  • Plant Width : 1 to 3 feet
  • Zones : 6, 7, 8, 9
  • Moisture : Dry to Medium
  • Bloom Time : Early Summer
  • Light : Full Sun
  • Uses : Ground Covers
  • Maintenance : Low
  • Foliage Color : Purple/Burgundy
  • Characteristics : Showy Foliage
  • Plant Type : Shrubs
  • Growth Rate : Slow
  • Plant Seasonal Interest : Spring Interest
  • Plant Height : Under 6 inches
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