South African Oxalis Five

There are more than 200 species of Oxalis in South Africa and 270 varieties and probably many new species as well. The only handbook on the Southern African species, by Salter, is almost sixty years old and out of print so there are many challenges in identifying them. Cape Plants, a conspectus of the Cape flora of South Africa by Peter Goldblatt and John Manning lists 118 in the Cape Floral Kingdom but there is only a brief botanical description, location sometimes with habitat information, and time of bloom in this book.

South African species H-K are found on this wiki page.


Oxalis index - Miscellaneous Oxalis - Oxalis flava - Oxalis hirta - Oxalis obtusa - Oxalis pes-caprae - Oxalis purpurea - South African oxalis A-B - South African oxalis C - South African oxalis D-E - South African oxalis F-G - South African oxalis L-M - South African oxalis N-O - South African oxalis P - South African oxalis R-S - South African oxalis T-Z - South American oxalis


Oxalis haedulipes is a yellow flowering oxalis resembling Oxalis pes-caprae, although it is typically smaller in stature and flower size. The best diagnostic difference between these two species are the bulbs, those of O. pes-caprae being pale brown, with indistinct longitudinal ridges. O. haedulipes has a greyish bulb with conspicuous longitudinal ridges, and always has a stem. See also O. copiosa for more information on these look-alikes. It is found in the Kalahari, from about Keimoes, and as far east as Kimberley. The last photo show O. haedulipes in habitat growing among rocks, about 60km east of Upington. Photos by Christiaan van Schalkwyk.

Oxalis haedulipes, Christiaan van SchalkwykOxalis haedulipes, Christiaan van SchalkwykOxalis haedulipes in habitat, Christiaan van Schalkwyk

Most Oxalis form new bulbs each year, often deeper than the previous year’s bulb. These photos show the bulbs of Oxalis haedulipes, four years after its last transplant. In the first picture the bulbs and old bulb scales can be seen in the soil. Note also the secondary bulbs formed away from the original bulb. In the second and third photos a set of bulb and scales were removed, and separated, with the bulb in the left of the pictures. The last photo is a close-up showing the greyish colour and distinct longitudinal ridges characteristic of this species. These photos by Christiaan van Schalkwyk, with the bulbs on a 1 cm grid.

Oxalis haedulipes bulbs in soil, Christiaan van SchalkwykOxalis haedulipes bulbs, Christiaan van SchalkwykOxalis haedulipes bulbs, Christiaan van SchalkwykOxalis haedulipes bulbs, Christiaan van Schalkwyk

Oxalis helicoides is a caulescent species with a twisted, spiraling stem (resembling a helix). Known from about Springbok, Kamieskroon and Garies. A white form (var. alba) has also been described. This is truly a beautiful species. Photos by Christiaan van Schalkwyk.

Oxalis helicoides, Christiaan van SchalkwykOxalis helicoides, Christiaan van SchalkwykOxalis helicoides, Christiaan van Schalkwyk

Oxalis hirta see the Oxalis hirta page.

Representative photos of this species. Photos 1 & 6 were from Mary Sue Ittner, photo 2 was from Bill Dijk, photos 3 was from Andrew Broome, photo 4 was from Nhu Nguyen and photo 5 was from Andrew Wilson.

Oxalis hirta, Mary Sue IttnerOxalis hirta, Bill DijkOxalis hirta, Andrew BroomeOxalis hirta 'Mavre', Nhu NguyenOxalis hirta v. tubiflora, Andrew WilsonOxalis hirta bulbs, Mary Sue Ittner

Oxalis imbricata is described as having trifoliolate hairy leaves and white flowers with a greenish tube by at least one source. This is a species from both the Western and Eastern Cape. The form that most of us are growing has pink flowers. Photos by Mary Sue Ittner. The last shows the bulbs on a 1 cm grid.

Oxalis imbricata, Mary Sue IttnerOxalis imbricata bulbs, Mary Sue Ittner

Oxalis inaequalis First bloomed February 2005. Bulbs from Telos. This species has 3 succulent leaflets and is one-flowered, with short yellow to coppery-rose flowers with a yellow tube. The sepals are grossly unequal in size, giving rise to its latin name. It often forms numerous (up to 400) axial bulbils per plant. Photos by Liz Waterman and Christiaan van Schalkwyk.

Oxalis inaequalis, Liz WatermanOxalis inaequalis, Christiaan van Schalkwyk

Oxalis incarnata has become a weed in some places and care should be taken when growing this species. The weediness is due to it's ability to make bulbils in the leaf axis and can stay evergreen with moisture. It can be a nice hanging basket specimen however. This plant started blooming in October in the Northern hemisphere and bloomed through May in northern California. It seems to prefer shade when temperatures are warm. Photos 1-3 were taken by Bob Rutemoeller and photos 4-5 were taken by Nhu Nguyen of plants being a weed in Nhu Nguyen's northern California garden.

Oxalis incarnata, Bob RutemoellerOxalis incarnata, Bob RutemoellerOxalis incarnata, Bob RutemoellerOxalis incarnata, Nhu NguyenOxalis incarnata, Nhu Nguyen

Oxalis inconspicua is a very small, low growing and white flowering Oxalis. It flowers in midwinter, and the slightly inflated tube of the corolla, as seen in the second picture, is a definite character of this species (shared only with O. purpurea). Photos by Christiaan van Schalkwyk.

Oxalis inconspicua, Christiaan van SchalkwykOxalis inconspicua, Christiaan van Schalkwyk

Oxalis kaajagdensis. The correct name for this species is unclear. The plant was supplied to Telos Rare Bulbs under this name, but it's not a published name. A PBS member suggests that it is actually Oxalis kaasvogdensis, a name that is not currently found on plantlist.org but is reportedly listed in a published Oxalis reference book. Whatever its proper name, it is an attractive winter-growing bulb. It does well in pots with loose soil and a little fertilizer, kept dry in summer. It grows as a column; the plant looks like something you'd see growing at the bottom of an aquarium (but don't try to grow it there; it would drown). In fall it has bright yellow flowers on long wiry stems that emerge from the column. Photos by Michael Mace.

Oxalis kaajagdensis, Michael MaceOxalis kaajagdensis, Michael Mace

Oxalis karooica does not appear to be a valid name. Bulbs grown under this name are probably Oxalis gracilis.


Oxalis index - Miscellaneous Oxalis - Oxalis flava - Oxalis hirta - Oxalis obtusa - Oxalis pes-caprae - Oxalis purpurea - South African oxalis A-B - South African oxalis C - South African oxalis D-E - South African oxalis F-G - South African oxalis L-M - South African oxalis N-O - South African oxalis P - South African oxalis R-S - South African oxalis T-Z - South American oxalis


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Page last modified on November 26, 2013, at 06:50 AM