Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wildflower Wednesday - February 2015

Today I am linking up with Gail Eichelberger's "Clay and Limestone" which is celebrating its fifth anniversary of the regular feature, Wildflower Wednesday. Congratulations to Gail.


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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.   

10 comments:

  1. It is a very pretty little plant!
    We have snow here today

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    1. I heard from one of my friends in your area earlier, Lea, who told me it was snowing there. Stay warm - spring is coming!

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  2. What state do you live in to have blooms this time of year? I like oxalises, too, but mine are the cultivars I grow in pots and bring inside for the winter. I have two pots, one with purple leaves, the other part green and part purple. Most winters, at least one of the pots will look like the plants died by spring, but once they get to go back outside, they perk up and do well.

    Thank you for your comment on my blog.

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    1. I'm in Southeast Texas, zone 9a, where so far we've only had one night of freezing temperatures this winter. My purple oxalises die back in winter as well, but they always return in the spring.

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  3. Those are such sweet little blooms! I have a similar love/hate relationship with the native violets here. I like them, but they do have a habit of spreading into areas where I don't want them.

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    1. They do spread freely, sometimes to places where we don't want them, but they are so pretty that it's hard to sustain anger at them.

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  4. I used to see these flowers on walks in our former neighborhood in Florida. They were never a problem in our yard because we had very little shade. It's nice to know they have some health benefits if used correctly.

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    1. According to Wildflowers of Texas, they do have such medicinal uses, although I can't say that I've actually ever tried them. My husband, the woodworker, just reminded me that oxalic acid can be used to remove stains from oak wood. A plant that is useful as well as pretty!

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  5. My husband the geologist and mineral collector says that oxalic acid is useful for getting the iron stain out of quartz crystals. We have some beautiful specimens that prove his point!

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    1. Who knew that it was such a useful plant?

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