Oxalis is a genus of about 500 species of annuals and perennials in the family Oxalidaceae, mostly native to South America and Africa.
These low-growing plants have brightly colored, funnel-shaped or bowl-shaped flowers, and clover-like leaves which close up at night and open during the day. The flowers are a rich source of nectar which attracts bees, butterflies and flies. Oxalis is cultivated in ornamental purposes and as a source of food.
The genus name is derived from the Greek word “oxus” (“sour”) and refers to the acid taste of the leaves.
Oxalis represents joy and good-heartedness.
Interesting facts about Oxalis:
Is Oxalis Invasive?
In some parts of the world, it is considered as a weed and can spread fast in disturbed landscapes.
While Oxalis has a reputation for being weedy or invasive, the vast majority of these species are well behaved.
Is Oxalis Poisonous?
Oxalis leaves contain oxalic acid, which is considered toxic when consumed in large quantities. The oxalic acid is abundantly present in many plants, such as beets, berries, beans, nuts, spinach, chard, black pepper etc.
It can be considered an anti-nutrient in lower doses because it prevents absorption of important minerals like iron. However, people with gout, rheumatism, arthritis and kidney stones should avoid it.
Benefits and Uses
Oxalis leaves can be used for medicinal purposes.
They are used traditionally for the treatment of fever, pain and inflammation. They are also good for increasing appetite.
All parts of the plant above ground are edible.
Oxalis is rich source of vitamin C and has nice citrus flavor. It was popular among sailors in the past, who consumed it on a regular basis to prevent development of scurvy.
Oxalis can be eaten raw, made into a drink, cooked or used as a seasoning. Its tart leaves make a nice addition to salad mixes.
Annuals, Bulbs, Perennials
The flowers come in shades of yellow, pink, white and purple.
Spring, Autumn, Summer
This plant reaches 7 to 30 cm (3 to 12 inches) in height.
Oxalis prefers moist and well drained soil, but does not like to be in a soggy spot. They have no special soil requirements.