Botanical name

Oxalis pes-caprae var. pes-caprae

Family

Oxalidaceae

Common Name

Geelsuring, Varksuring, Common Sorrel
Oxalis pes-caprae var. pes-caprae
Oxalis pes-caprae var. pes-caprae
Oxalis pes-caprae var. pes-caprae
Oxalis pes-caprae var. pes-caprae

Description

Short-stemmed or stemless geophyte, almost hairless. Leaves many on long stalks, round in cross-section, leaflets in threes, heart-shaped, the tip deeply lobed, often with a purple band near the base, sometimes with hairs below; inflorescence a 3-20 flowered umbel, the flower stalk twice as long as the leaves, petals bright yellow, the tube whitish.

Carl Thunberg (1773) records that a crystalline salt (oxalic acid) was readily formed from the juice of the plants and extracted by early settlers (Salts-of-lemon). It was formerly used for removing ink stains and the name Salts-of-lemon became erroneously applied, since the sap of Oxalis contains an oxalate of lime and not citric-acid which is the active principle of the real Salts-of-lemon.

Traditionally enjoyed by children who suck out the sour juices from the bottom of the stem.

The species appears to have made its appearance in the former Transvaal (c. 1905) and in Kwazulu-Natal (c. 1865) and to have been introduced into Australia where it has become a severe weed.

Habitat

Very common on roadsides and in grassy places

Flower Date

June to October