Oxalis

Latin Name: Oxalis spp.

oxalisOrigin: Several species in the genus, originating from Europe to South America.

Family: Oxalidaceae.

Known Hazards: The leaves contain oxalic acid, which gives them their sharp flavour. Perfectly all right in small quantities, the leaves should not be eaten in large amounts since oxalic acid can bind up the body’s supply of calcium leading to nutritional deficiency. The quantity of oxalic acid will be reduced if the leaves are cooked. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition.

Habitat: Roadsides, grassy places and as a weed of the garden.

Edibility Rating: 3 (1-5)

Medicinal Rating: 0 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics: Perennial growing to 0.2m by 0.1m. It is in flower in summer through autumn. The flowers are hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.

Edible Uses

oxalis2Leaves and flowers: raw or cooked. A pleasant lemony flavour, they make a nice addition in salads. The leaves are available through out winter and the flowers from early summer, or even later in mild autumns. Use in moderation, see notes at top of sheet.

Medicinal Uses

None known

Other Uses

None known

Notes: The genus Oxalis includes over 800 species of annual or perennial, stemmed or stemless, herbs and shrubs, often with underground bulbs or tubers. A few are aquatic species. Of the thirty species of Oxalis in Australia, twenty are naturalised and many are existing or potential serious pests in various parts of the country. Twenty two species ofOxalis were listed in Victorian nursery catalogues between 1855 and 1889. Eleven species are described in Gardening Australia’s Flora (2003) with acknowledgement that ‘some of the world’s worst weeds belong in Oxalis.One species of concern in Victoria is Soursob, Oxalis pes-caprae which invades coastal heath vegetation, grassland, woodland and dry forest. It also occurs along roadsides, and in gardens, crops and pastures. It is distinguished by the three heart-shaped leaflets with or without stalks which fold in dull days or at night. Flowers are bright yellow in colour and open in sunlight and close at night. There are masses of underground bulbs which are spread by water, birds, in dumped garden waste and during cultivation.

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