Oxalis or is a large genus of flowering plants in the wood-sorrel family Oxalidaceae comprising about 570 species. The genus occurs throughout most of the world, except for the polar areas; species diversity is particularly rich in tropical Brazil, Mexico and South Africa.
Many of the species are known as wood sorrels as they have an acidic taste reminiscent of the sorrel proper, which is only distantly related. Some species are called yellow sorrels or pink sorrels after the color of their flowers instead. Other species are colloquially known as false shamrocks, and some called sourgrasses. For the genus as a whole, the term oxalises is also used.

Description and ecology

These plants are annual or perennial. The leaves are divided into three to ten or more obovate and top notched leaflets, arranged palmately with all the leaflets of roughly equal size. The majority of species have three leaflets; in these species, the leaves are superficially similar to those of some clovers. Some species exhibit rapid changes in leaf angle in response to temporarily high light intensity to decrease photoinhibition.
The flowers have five petals, which are usually fused at the base, and ten stamens. The petal color varies from white to pink, red or yellow; anthocyanins and xanthophylls may be present or absent but are generally not both present together in significant quantities, meaning that few wood-sorrels have bright orange flowers. The fruit is a small capsule containing several seeds. The roots are often tuberous and succulent, and several species also reproduce vegetatively by production of bulbils, which detach to produce new plants.
of the dry-season brood laying eggs on Oxalis
Several Oxalis species dominate the plant life in local woodland ecosystems, be it
Coast Range ecoregion of the North American Pacific Northwest, or the Sydney Turpentine-Ironbark Forest in southeastern Australia where least yellow sorrel is common. In the United Kingdom and neighboring Europe, common wood sorrel is the typical woodland member of this genus, forming large swaths in the typical mixed deciduous forests dominated by downy birch and sessile oak, by sycamore maple, common bracken, pedunculate oak and blackberries, or by common ash, dog's mercury and European rowan ; it is also common in woods of common juniper. Some species - notably Bermuda-buttercup and creeping woodsorrel - are pernicious, invasive weeds when escaping from cultivation outside their native ranges; the ability of most wood-sorrels to store reserve energy in their tubers makes them quite resistant to most weed control techniques.
Tuberous woodsorrels provide food for certain small herbivores - such as the Montezuma quail. The foliage is eaten by some Lepidoptera, such as the Polyommatini pale grass blue - which feeds on creeping wood sorrel and others - and dark grass blue.
Oxalis species are susceptible to rust.

Use by humans

As food

is an edible wild plant that has been consumed by humans around the world for millennia. In Dr. James Duke's Handbook of Edible Weeds, he notes that the Native American Kiowa people chewed wood sorrel to alleviate thirst on long trips, the Potawatomi cooked it with sugar to make a dessert, the Algonquin considered it an aphrodisiac, the Cherokee ate wood sorrel to alleviate mouth sores and a sore throat, and the Iroquois ate wood sorrel to help with cramps, fever and nausea.
sThe fleshy, juicy edible tubers of the oca have long been cultivated for food in Colombia and elsewhere in the northern Andes mountains of South America. It is grown and sold in New Zealand as "New Zealand yam", and varieties are now available in yellow, orange, apricot, and pink, as well as the traditional red-orange.
The leaves of scurvy-grass sorrel were eaten by sailors travelling around Patagonia as a source of vitamin C to avoid scurvy.
In India, creeping wood sorrel is eaten only seasonally, starting in December–January. The Bodos of north east India sometimes prepare a sour fish curry with its leaves. The leaves of common wood sorrel may be used to make a lemony-tasting tea when dried.

For its oxalic acid content

A characteristic of members of this genus is that they contain oxalic acid, giving the leaves and flowers a sour taste which can make them refreshing to chew. The crude calcium oxalate ranges from 13 to 25 mg/g fresh weight for woodsorrel as compared to 1.3 to 1.8 mg/g for spinach. In very large amounts, oxalic acid may be considered slightly toxic, interfering with proper digestion and kidney function. However, oxalic acid is also present in more commonly consumed foods such as spinach, broccoli, brussels sprouts, grapefruit, chives, and rhubarb, among many others. General scientific consensus seems to be that the risk of sheer toxicity, actual poisoning from oxalic acid in persons with normal kidney function is "wildly unlikely".
While any oxalic acid-containing plant, such as Oxalis, is toxic to humans in some dosage, the U.S. National Institutes of Health note that oxalic acid is present in many foodstuffs found in the supermarket and its toxicity is generally of little or no consequence for people who eat a variety of foods.
In the past, it was a practice to extract crystals of calcium oxalate for use in treating diseases and as a salt called sal acetosella or "sorrel salt". Growing oca tuber root caps are covered in a fluorescent slush rich in harmaline and harmine which apparently suppresses pests. Creeping wood sorrel and perhaps other species are apparently hyperaccumulators of copper. The Ming Dynasty text Precious Secrets of the Realm of the King of Xin from 1421 describes how O. corniculata can be used to locate copper deposits as well as for geobotanical prospecting. It thus ought to have some potential for phytoremediation of contaminated soils.

As ornamental plants

Several species are grown as pot plants or as ornamental plants in gardens, for example, O. versicolor.
Oxalis flowers range in colour from whites to yellows, peaches, pinks, or multi-coloured flowers.
Some varieties have double flowers, for example the double form of O. compressus. Some varieties are grown for their foliage, such as the dark purple-leaved O. triangularis.
Species with four regular leaflets - in particular O. tetraphylla - are sometimes misleadingly sold as "four-leaf clover", taking advantage of the mystical status of four-leaf clover.

Selected species

Sources USDA, Nesom
Savign. forma crassipes Lourteig, 1982

Savign. subspecies rubra Lourteig, 1982
Kunth varietas corymbosa Lourteig, 1981
Raizada, 1976
Barneoud, 1846

R.Knuth, 1919
, L
L., 1753
- common yellow woodsorrel, common yellow oxalis, upright yellow-sorrel, lemon clover, "pickle plant", "sourgrass, "yellow woodsorrel"