A B C D E F G H I J L O P R S T W
Oxalis ,
Flower Bulb

Oxalis is a perennial flower bearing plant belonging to genus Oxalis. It is a plant of bulbous origin. It is herbaceous plant. The reason for it being named as an international plant is, it grows all over the world except in the polar areas. It has a huge family i.e. there are more than nine-hundred known species of Oxalis. There are varieties of oxalis. They differ in colour and texture. It can be considered homely (indoor) as well as a wild (outdoor) plant. All the oxalis plant contains oxalic acid, this acid can result harmful when consumed in access amount. Otherwise, oxalis is an environment friendly plant with beautiful flower to beautify our garden, veranda etc. It is a life time plant; once you have planted oxalis in your home garden, you will always have it there. It is a great houseplant that can be easily cared and looked after. It is one of the few plants that bloom all the year round keeping few gaps during the time of dormancy.

The bulbous plant oxalis often called wood sorrel or shamrock has beautiful foliage with amazing blossoms throughout the season ­­­; you get to see oxalis in winter, summer and spring. When you see the flowers fading away, always remember that they will return back within a passage of time- it is during the time of dormancy that they tend to fade away. Soon they will rise up all fresh with a regained strength. Most of the oxalises are found to be 4-to-12 inches tall with 1-to-2 inches bloom.

1) Leaves:  Oxalis has clover shaped/heart shaped leaves.  They are usually thee- sided- clover but sometimes four-sided-clover is also found. It has beautiful, attractive leaves of maroon, deep purple, bright green or of varied colours dotted with silver. They have a unique character i.e. the leaves move. They fold at the sunset, heavy rain and during the night time. They open up when the day light appears, they are the worshippers of freshness. People believe that the leaves bring good luck.

2) Flower: Oxalis consists of five petals infused at the base with ten stamens. Depending upon the species of oxalis, we find oxalis with white, purple, pink, lavender, yellow and other colourful flowers from the fall till spring. These flowers serve to decorate our home, garden etc. It adds colour to our home environment, parks, schools etc.

3) Root: Oxalis has tuberous root with succulent feature.

4) Needs of the plant: Oxalis flowers are the great observers of water and they prefer to thrive in shady and moist soil but not the totally wet soil. They mostly wilt away during the hot summer days or when excess water is given to, so it is best to plant them in a shady area. It is suggested to fertilize the plant at half strength with a liquid fertilizer when the plant is in active growing stage.

Location: They grow in the moist places. It can be parks, courtyard, lawns, anywhere that is moist. It is a plant that grows all the year round. Once the oxalis reserves an area for its growth, the place becomes its permanent settlement unless they are cleared out properly.

 Light: All the oxalis species need a lot of light to thrive. Thus, it is best to provide minimum of seven hours of light during the winter and minimum five hours of light during the summer month (too much of hot summer light can prove harmful) and in case of artificial light in a greenhouse – at least twelve hours of light is necessary for the plant to grow a healthy oxalis.

Water: Oxalis fails to grow in a dry soil. It is best suggested to keep the soil as moist as possible but not too wet; it needs some space to let the air get into the soil for the roots to breathe in air. Stop watering once the leaves start to wilt away.

 Temperature: Oxalis prefers cool environment especially during the time of bloom. Too much of exposure to the hot sun may lead to early dormancy of the plant. Specialist of bulbous plant has found and suggested that oxalis requires 50 to 65 degree Celsius at night time and will not require more than 70 to 75 degree Celsius during the day time. They grow well in average humidity.

Fertilizer: It is best to provide liquid fertilizer to oxalis plant during their time of active growth i.e. usually during late winter and spring. Once in a month fertilization is enough. Stop fertilizing once the leaves start to wilt away, it is an indication for their time of dormancy.

 Propagation: Oxalis propagates through bulbs, corn or rhizomes.

Medicinal value of oxalis: As the name suggests, oxalis is a flower containing oxalic acid. There are some minor medicinal uses of oxalis despite its weedy behavior.

The following are some:

·         The cooling action of oxalis serves to heal/prevent discomfort caused by fever when taken in a pint of water.

·         Wood sorrel is often used in treating influenza, fever, diarrhea, traumatic injuries etc.

·         The leaves of oxalis also act as an antidote in case of snakebite.

·         Some oxalis such as oxalis corniculate has lots of medicinal properties such as treatment of snakebite, fever, nausea, diarrhea, sprains etc. It also serves as an anti-inflammatory as it has anti-bacterial property.

·         Gargle some liquid extract of oxalis with water to heal mouth sores or even ulcers

·         Intake little amount (not more than 2 ounces)of oxalis to relief urinary tract infections.

·         Applying oxalis in an ointment form helps to heal skin cuts, rashes and other skin infections

Note: patients with kidney stones or kidney problems, digestive problems, rheumatoid arthritis or gout are suggested not to use oxalis; it can prove fatal due to oxalic acid content in such cases.

Other uses of oxalis by the humans:

·         Oca tuber root caps contain fluorescent that helps in controlling pests.

·         Wood sorrel is an edible wild plant consumed by all the people; to heal mouth sores, sore throat, nausea, avoid thrist on long journey and also in case of cramps.

·         They are grown and sold in New Zealand as New Zealand yam.

·         The dwellers of Colombia, Andes Mountains of South America cultivate fresh and juicy edible tubers of oca.

·         Creeping wood sorrel is eaten seasonally from December to January in India.

·         Wood sorrel is eaten as salad.

Few characteristics of oxalis:

·         Oxalis contains oxalic acid. Thus, it is sour in taste.

·         It is slightly toxic; it leads to poor digestion and is harmful for the kidney function.

·         Wood sorrel/shamrock/oxalis needs some period of dormancy every year to bloom well.

·         Its colour varies form purple, pink, peach, lavender, white, yellow or other multi-coloured flowers.

·         It belongs to genus oxalis.

·         Some oxalises are edible.

They consist of five petals and clover-like leaves.


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