I'm featuring a wildflower that is a pernicious weed in my garden, pushing its way into just about every one of my beds sooner or later. While I pull many of them out, I do continue to tolerate the weed because at this time of year, it features one of the few points of color in my garden.
|Oxalis violacea, or violet wood sorrel, is such a delicate looking plant, you'd never suspect it of thuggish behavior, but any gardener who has ever tried to completely eradicate has learned that it is indomitable!|
This member of the wood sorrel family is a low, delicate, somewhat succulent, smooth perennial. The plants spread from underground runners and will form small colonies quick as a blink of the eye. The flowers form in clusters at the tip of long, leafless stalks that rise above the leaves. They close up at night and often during cloudy days as well.
The plants will bloom twice a year, first in early spring and again in fall. This year they are blooming in February, possibly because we have had such a mild winter here. After the plants bloom in spring, they become very inconspicuous, another reason why it is possible to tolerate them.
Violet wood sorrel was historically used by Native Americans for medicinal purposes. A mild tea brewed correctly from the leaves is said to be beneficial to the blood and a cold leaf tea can be used to control vomiting. The leaves of the plant have an agreeable sour taste when chewed but care must be taken because large amounts of the leaves can cause violent convulsions due to the presence of poisonous oxalic acid.
There are also cultivated varieties of this plant, particularly a pretty purple-leafed one, Oxalis triangularis, which I grow extensively in my garden. On purpose.