Acetosella debilis (Kunth) Kuntze
Acetosella grandifolia (DC.) Kuntze
Acetosella martiana (Zucc.) Kuntze
Ionoxalis canaminensis Rusby
Ionoxalis martiana (Zucc.) Small
Oxalis bipunctata Graham
Oxalis bulbifera R.Knuth
Oxalis caripensis Hieron.
Oxalis corymbosa DC.
Oxalis debilis corymbosa (DC.) Lourteig.
Oxalis gemella Willd. ex Zucc.
Oxalis grandifolia DC.
Oxalis huilensis R.Knuth
Oxalis martiana Zucc.
Oxalis multibulbosa Turcz.
Oxalis pynaertii De Wild.
Oxalis umbrosa Willd. ex Zucc.
Oxalis urbica A.St.-Hil.
Sassia debilis (Kunth) Holub
Common Name: Lilac Oxalis
Oxalis debilis is a perennial plant growing from a bulb; it produces a cluster of leaves and flowering stems about 15cm tall. The bulb also produces many small bulbs around its base and a fleshy, contractile root that can pull the bulb deeper into the soil.
The plant is sometimes harvested from the wild for its edible leaves, flowers and root.
Oxalis debilis is often grown as an ornamental. It has spread from cultivation and become naturalized in many locations outside its native range. The plant spreads especially by means of the many small bulbs produced around the base of the mother bulb which are easily detatched from the parent plant. The plant is deemed invasive in many tropical countries and, even though it is a tropical plant, it has also become naturalized in warmer areas of the temperate zone such as southwest Europe[
The leaves contain oxalic acid, which gives them their sharp flavour. Perfectly all right in small quantities, the leaves should not be eaten in large amounts since oxalic acid can bind up the body's supply of calcium leading to nutritional deficiency. The quantity of oxalic acid will be reduced if the leaves are cooked. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition[
S. America - Brazil, Paraguay, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, the Guyanas; C. America - Panama to Guatemala.
Moist, shady places at elevations of 45 - 1,200 metres in Jamaica[
]. A weed of disturbed ground and gardens in southwest Europe.
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
Oxalis debilis is not very cold-hardy, with one report listing it as succeeding in climatic zone 9 and higher, thus only tolerating occasional light frosts[
]. However, it is naturalized in parts of Britain, especially near London[
], and so should prove hardy to at least zone 8. It is growing well in our Cornwall site, where it has proved to be hardy for more than 20 years[
Easily grown in a sandy soil in a warm dry position[
Leaves and leafstalks - raw or cooked[
]. The acid-flavoured leaves are used as a seasoning with a flavour similar to tamarind (Tamarindus indica)[
]. .Use in moderation, see notes at top of sheet.
Flowers - raw. A pleasant acid flavour, they make an ornamental addition to a mixed salad[
Root - raw. Sweet, crisp and succulent[
Seed - best sown as soon as ripe in a cold frame. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in late spring or early summer.
Division in spring. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer.