South African Oxalis Nine

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 R-S 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 H-K - South African oxalis L-M - South African oxalis N-O - South African oxalis P - South African oxalis T-Z - South American oxalis


Oxalis salteri is a robust single leaved species. The leaves are green above, and dark red below. Flowers are yellow or white, and resemble those of its section, Crassulae (eg. O. flava and O. fabaefolia). The bulbs are deep seated (30-40 cm.) and grow in sticky clay patches in the Vanrhynsdorp surrounds. It is apparently a very challenging species to grow. The first photo show a plant in habitat with the leaves of a white flowered form of O. purpurea in the background. These photos were taken by Christiaan van Schalkwyk.

Oxalis salteri, Christiaan van SchalkwykOxalis salteri bud, Christiaan van SchalkwykOxalis salteri, Christiaan van SchalkwykOxalis salteri, Christiaan van Schalkwyk

Oxalis semiloba is found in forest clearings and margins and sheltered grassland from the Eastern Cape to Mozambique. Leaves are divided into three triangular to heart shaped leaflets and the pink flowers with a greenish tube are in clusters of three to twelve on a long stalk. Where it grows naturally, it blooms from summer into fall. Photos 1-2 from Charles Powell who lives in a dry part of Northern California who successfully treats this species like his winter rainfall species. The final photo from Bob Rutemoeller shows the bulbs on a 1 cm grid.

Oxalis semiloba, Charles PowellOxalis semiloba, Charles PowellOxalis semiloba bulbs, Bob Rutemoeller

Oxalis smithiana grows in damp grassland , on mossy rocks in forest, from the coast up to 2560 meters elevation in south eastern South Africa (George to Mpumalanga). It has deeply divided narrow lobes and solitary mauve to pale lilac to white flowers with a white throat. It grows to 25 cm tall. Photos 1-2 taken January 2010 at Maclear by Mary Sue Ittner. Photo 3 taken January 2010 by Bob Rutemoeller at Gaika's Kop.

Oxalis smithiana, Maclear, Mary Sue IttnerOxalis smithiana, Maclear, Mary Sue IttnerOxalis smithiana, Gaika's Kop, Bob Rutemoeller

Oxalis sonderiana is a small ground-hugging plant, with vivid glaucous green leaves. Flowers are yellow, and large in comparison with the leaves. It is a beautiful species. This photo was taken near Springbok in Namaqualand by Christiaan van Schalkwyk.

Oxalis sonderiana, Christiaan van Schalkwyk

Oxalis sonderiana var. alba is similar to the type species, but with white flowers. It occurs in southern Namaqualand. Photos by Christiaan van Schalkwyk.

Oxalis sonderiana var. alba, Christiaan van SchalkwykOxalis sonderiana var. alba, Christiaan van Schalkwyk

Oxalis sp. I was given the bulbs of these some year ago under the names Oxalis oreoides. They were from South Africa. However, I cannot trace that name in Salter or Index Kewensis. If anybody has another name for them please let me know. The reverses of the leaves are dark red. Photos by David Victor.

Oxalis sp., David VictorOxalis sp., David Victor

An oxalis without a name, photo from Lyn Edwards.

Oxalis sp., Lyn Edwards

Oxalis sp is a Michael Vassar collection. It was labeled MV4621A, but Vassar's collection notes say the flower is pink, and this one has white flowers with a yellow and green throat. The pot may have been mislabeled. Photo by Michael Mace.

Oxalis MV4621A, Michael Mace

Oxalis sp MV4674 collected by Michael Vassar as 16 km north into Seweweekspoort, South Africa, was described by him as a tiny tufted plant with tiny leaves. It has pink flowers and blooms in the fall. It is unclear what species it is. Possibilities of Oxalis caprina and Oxalis imbricata don't seem to be correct. My guess is Oxalis commutata. Photos by Bob Rutemoeller and Mary Sue Ittner. The last shows the bulbs on a 1 cm grid already starting into growth.

Oxalis  MV4674, Bob RutemoellerOxalis MV4674, Mary Sue IttnerOxalis MV4674 bulbs, Mary Sue Ittner

Oxalis sp. MV5630A was collected by Michael Vassar. It has pale violet flowers, and blooms in early fall. It closely resembles Michael's Oxalis commutata MV5117, and blooms at the same time. His collection notes:
"Vanrhynshoek, top of mountain in a level area among big rocks in a dark red, heavy soil. Small, non-winged, light brown bulbs, 3/4 inch light lavender-pink flowers, No bracts. Light sweet scent. Tiny, tufted plants. Plant early." Photos by Michael Mace.

Oxalis MV5630A, Michael MaceOxalis MV5630A closeup, Michael Mace

Oxalis ssp. These three species were seen blooming in September 2003 in South Africa near Caledon. I wasn't able to identify them. Photos by Bob Rutemoeller.

Oxalis sp., Bob RutemoellerOxalis sp., Bob RutemoellerOxalis sp., Bob Rutemoeller

Photos below from Mary Sue Ittner and Bob Rutemoeller are of an unidentified summer rainfall species in bloom January 2010 at three different places in the Eastern Cape: Maclear, Naude's Nek, and Gaika's Kop. It doesn't quite fit the descriptions for any of the species with umbelliform flowers. These plants are not robust as the description of Oxalis semiloba which is found usually at lower elevations and generally with pink flowers and are not glabrous like Oxalis stenorrhyncha which is another species found in the Eastern Cape.

Oxalis sp., back of leaf Maclear, Bob RutemoellerOxalis sp., Maclear, Mary Sue IttnerOxalis sp., Maclear, Mary Sue IttnerOxalis sp., Naude's Nek, Mary Sue IttnerOxalis sp., Naude's Nek, Mary Sue IttnerOxalis sp., Gaika's Kop, Mary Sue Ittner

Photos below from Mary Sue Ittner and Bob Rutemoeller are of what we think is the same unidentified summer rainfall species in bloom January 2010 in the Eastern Cape at Naude's Nek and Gaika's Kop.

Oxalis sp., Gaika's Kop, Bob RutemoellerOxalis sp., Gaika's Kop, Mary Sue IttnerOxalis sp., Gaika's Kop, Bob RutemoellerOxalis sp., Naude's Nek, Mary Sue IttnerOxalis sp., Naude's Nek, Mary Sue IttnerOxalis sp., Naude's Nek, Mary Sue Ittner

Oxalis stellata is one of the few umbeliform Oxalis found in South Africa. Flowers could be pink or white. Photos by Christiaan van Schalkwyk.

Oxalis stellata, Christiaan van SchalkwykOxalis stellata, Christiaan van Schalkwyk

Oxalis stenorrhyncha has small brick-red flowers, and should be regarded as summer growing. It flowers from middle summer into the winter. Photos 1-2 were taken by Christiaan van Schalkwyk. Photo 3 was taken by Michael Mace, who grows it as a winter-growing bulb, blooming from fall through winter. The photo shows the unusual form of the plant, with a stalk that raises the leaves up off the ground like a miniature palm tree. Over time the plant sprawls as it gets larger. The form grown by Michael has dull orange flowers. Photos 4-5 by Nhu Nguyen show the same form.

Oxalis stenorrhyncha, Christiaan van SchalkwykOxalis stenorrhyncha, Christiaan van SchalkwykOxalis stenorrhyncha, Michael MaceOxalis stenorrhyncha, Nhu NguyenOxalis stenorrhyncha, Nhu Nguyen

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 H-K - South African oxalis L-M - South African oxalis N-O - South African oxalis P - South African oxalis T-Z - South American oxalis


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