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Friday, March 14, 2014

Flower Friday: Creeping woodsorrel - an Oxalis of our own

Creeping woodsorrel (Oxalis corniculata)

Oxalis corniculata bloom. Photo/Stacey Matrazzo
Some say that creeping woodsorrel is a shamrock impersonator with its clove-like leaf blade. All will say that this ground-hugging native plant has an eye-catching yellow flower.

Creeping woodsorrel can bloom almost any time during the year, although spring is the time for heavy flowering and seed formation. The flowers have five small yellow petals, about 1/8- to 1/3-inch long, that are borne singly in small clusters of two to five flowers on the ends of short, slender stalks. Leaves and stems are edible, and have a tangy, sour taste, thanks to the presence of oxalic acid. (Sorrel is from the German sur, or sour, and Oxalis is Greek for pungent.) Eat in moderation, as too much oxalic acid can inhibit calcium absorption.

Family: Oxalidaceae genus: Oxalis
Hardiness: North, Central and South Florida (Zones 8–10).
Soil: All types
Exposure: Full sun to shade
Oxalis corniculata leaves. Photo/Stacey Matrazzo
Growth habit: Low-growing, typically standing no more than a couple of inches tall, but the stems can grow to 20 inches long.
Garden tips: Creeping woodsorrel makes a great groundcover, but be aware that each seedpod can hold up to 50 seeds, and a single plant can produce up to 5,000 seeds. When the seeds mature, the pod will turn downward and forcefully discharge the seed into the surrounding area. They germinate whenever temperatures are between 60 and 80 degrees.

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