Jepson eFlora: Taxon page
Vascular Plants of California
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Oxalis pes-caprae

Higher Taxonomy
Family: OxalidaceaeView Description 
Habit: Annual, perennial herb [vine, shrub, tree]. Leaf: compound (palmate [pinnate, or leaflet 1]), alternate, often +- basal in rosettes or at stem or rhizome tips in clusters, generally petioled, stipules generally 0, leaflets generally sessile. Inflorescence: cyme, umbel- or raceme-like or not, or flowers 1, generally in axils; peduncle bracted. Flower: generally bisexual, radial; sepals 5, free or fused at base; petals 5, free or fused above base; stamens 10[15], fused below, of 2 lengths; pistil 1, ovary superior, chambers [3]5, placentas axile, styles [1]5, generally +- free. Fruit: generally capsule, loculicidal. Seed: generally arilled.
Genera In Family: 5 genera, number of species uncertain: especially temperate. Note: Often heterostylous.
eFlora Treatment Author: Robert E. Preston & Robert Ornduff
Scientific Editor: Thomas J. Rosatti.
Genus: OxalisView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Habit: Roots fibrous or woody; bulbs, tubers, or rhizomes often present. Stem: +- 0 or not. Leaf: stipules 0 or small; leaflets 3, generally +- obcordate [not], generally entire, generally green. Flower: petals clawed; styles erect or curved. Fruit: cylindric to spheric, explosively dehiscent. Seed: flat, often ridged; aril translucent.
Etymology: (Greek: sour, from acidic taste) Note: Taxonomy difficult, needs study; generally heterostylous; many (especially aliens in California except Oxalis micrantha) ornamental; some noxious weeds; oxalates may be TOXIC to livestock; Oxalis latifolia Kunth possibly naturalized in CCo (Keil 30389, just north of San Simeon), differs from Oxalis purpurea in having flowers in umbel-like cyme; Oxalis hirta L. an historical waif (no recent collections), excluded.
Reference: Lourteig 2000 Bradea 7:201--629
Unabridged Reference: Eiten 1963 Amer Midl Naturalist 69:257--309; Lourteig 1975 Phytologia 42:57--1979; Turner 1994 Phytologia 77:1--7
Oxalis pes-caprae L.
Habit: Perennial herb; bulbs many on rhizomes, root tips, < 2.5 cm, white to brown. Stem: generally underground, vertical, short. Leaf: < 40, in loose +- basal rosette at enlarged stem tip; petiole < 12 cm; leaflets < 3.5 cm, often purple-spotted, abaxially hairy. Inflorescence: umbel-like, < 20-flowered; peduncle < 30 cm. Flower: sepals < 7 mm, lanceolate to oblong, tips often with 2 orange tubercles; petals < 2.5 cm, yellow; filaments < 7 mm, hairy. Fruit: 0 in California.
Ecology: Disturbed areas, roadsides, grassland, dunes; Elevation: < 820 m. Bioregional Distribution: NCo, NCoRO, n SNF, ScV, CW (exc SCoRI), SW (exc SnJt); Distribution Outside California: worldwide alien; native to southern Africa. Toxicity: Possibly TOXIC in quantity to sheep. Flowering Time: Jan--May Note: Cultivated as ornamental; common garden weed.
Synonyms: Oxalis cernua Thunb.
Jepson eFlora Author: Robert E. Preston & Robert Ornduff
Reference: Lourteig 2000 Bradea 7:201--629
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)
View the CDFA Pest Rating page for Oxalis pes-caprae
Weed listed by Cal-IPC

Previous taxon: Oxalis oregana
Next taxon: Oxalis pilosa

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Botanical illustration including Oxalis pes-caprae

botanical illustration including Oxalis pes-caprae


Citation for this treatment: Robert E. Preston & Robert Ornduff 2012, Oxalis pes-caprae, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on January 30, 2023.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2023, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on January 30, 2023.

Oxalis pes-caprae
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© 2009 Barry Rice
Oxalis pes-caprae
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© 2007 Neal Kramer
Oxalis pes-caprae
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© 2015 Barry Breckling
Oxalis pes-caprae
click for enlargement
© 2009 Barry Rice
Oxalis pes-caprae
click for enlargement
© 2011 Barry Breckling
Oxalis pes-caprae
click for enlargement
© 2009 Barry Rice

More photos of Oxalis pes-caprae in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Oxalis pes-caprae:
NCo, NCoRO, n SNF, ScV, CW (exc SCoRI), SW (exc SnJt)
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map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).


Data provided by the participants of the  Consortium of California Herbaria.
View all CCH records
All markers link to CCH specimen records. The original determination is shown in the popup window.
Blue markers indicate specimens that map to one of the expected Jepson geographic subdivisions (see left map). Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.

CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time (fruiting time in some monocot genera).