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Genus Oxalis Family Oxalidaceae

Description: Herbs or occasionally shrubs.

Leaves radical or cauline, mostly palmately compound, often with 3 leaflets; leaflets sessile or shortly petiolulate, entire or 2-lobed; stipules usually ciliate.

Inflorescences 1–many-flowered. Sepals and petals 5. Stamens 10. Carpels 5, united; ovary hairy inside loculii; styles 5, free.

Fruits hairy on inner surface.


Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 800 species, mostly warm-temp. & subtrop regions, especially southern Africa and Central & South America. Australia: c. 20 species (5 or 6 species native, 12 or 13 species naturalized), all States.

A number of species are grown as ornamental plants. Some naturalized species are serious weeds of cultivated pastures.

Text by B. J. Conn
Taxon concept:

 Key to the species 
1Aerial stem and branches absent or greatly reduced; leaves and peduncles radical2
Aerial stem and branches erect, ascending or creeping; leaves often whorled; peduncles axillary10
2Petals yellow3
Petals pale mauve, pink to purple, rarely white throughout
                       Back to 1
3Inflorescences 3–25-flowered; rhizome white and fleshyOxalis pes-caprae
Inflorescences 1-flowered; rhizome brown and papery
                       Back to 2
4Leaves 4–7-foliolate; leaflets narrow-elliptic to linearOxalis flava
Leaves 3-foliolate; leaflets oblong to obovate, never linear
                       Back to 3
Oxalis perdicaria
5Petioles densely hairy; hairs white; inflorescence 1-flowered, with flower on a peduncle that scarcely exceeds the leavesOxalis purpurea
Petioles glabrous or with scattered hairs; inflorescence mostly at least 3-flowered, with flowers on peduncles exceeding the leaves
                       Back to 2
6Numerous small bulbils produced7
No small bulbils produced
                       Back to 5
7Leaflets transversely cuneate, with lobe apices 12–50 mm apartOxalis latifolia
Leaflets cuneate to obcordate, with lobe apices to 12 mm apart
                       Back to 6
8Petals 18–20 mm long; inflorescence 1–4-flowered; bulbils formed from old bulb on stolons to 15 cm longOxalis brasiliensis
Petals 12–18 mm long; inflorescence 8–15-flowered; bulbils formed from old bulbs, sessile
                       Back to 7
Oxalis debilis
9Bulbs ovoid, tapered; leaves borne on a short stemOxalis bowiei
Bulbs absent; leaves borne on a woody rhizome
                       Back to 6
Oxalis articulata
10Petals yellow, to 12 mm long; bulbils absent11
Petals white, pink to mauve, 13–22 mm long; bulbils present
                       Back to 1
11Hairs on stem and branches mostly antrorse; stipules usually conspicuous, but not truncate12
Hairs on stem and branches spreading or retrorse; stipules either inconspicuous, or scarious and truncate
                       Back to 10
12Taproot stout; fruits long and usually slender, 8–30 mm long, 1.5–2.5 mm diam., erectOxalis perennans
Taproot probably absent or only slightly developed; fruit long or short, but not slender and erect
                       Back to 11
13Leaflets cuneate-obcordate, appearing angular-shaped; fruit long, 15–18 mm long, often stout in the middle, 3–4 mm diam.; plant rather glaucousOxalis rubens
Leaflets cuneate-obovate; indumentum sparse or dense; fruit short and broad or if longer then straight-sided; plant green
                       Back to 12
14Fruit short and broad, 5–6.5 mm long, 2–3 mm diam., with simple hairs; apex tapering; seeds strongly ridgedOxalis exilis
Fruit moderately long, 8–30 mm long, 1.5–2.5 mm diam., with flat septate hairs; apex abruptly narrowed; seeds almost smooth to shallowly ridged
                       Back to 13
Oxalis thompsoniae
15Fruit short and stout, 7–9 mm long, 3 mm diam.; branches long and trailing; leaves densely hairyOxalis chnoodes
Fruit long and relatively narrow, 8–16 mm long, 1.5–3 mm diam.; branches erect or trailing; leaves densely hairy or glabrescent
                       Back to 11
16Stipules keeled and inconspicuous; taproot stout and woodyOxalis radicosa
Stipules truncate and obvious, usually thin and glabrous except for hairs at margin; taproot, if developed, not stout and woody
                       Back to 15
Oxalis corniculata
17Leaflets linear, bilobed with lobes c. 0.5 mm wide; bulbils formed on old bulbOxalis bifurca
Leaflets obcordate, bilobed with lobes 5–9 mm wide; bulbils formed on rhizome and in leaf axils
                       Back to 10
Oxalis incarnata

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